8 soldiers killed in clash with NPA rebels in Philippines
25 January 2017 – At least eight soldiers and a rebel were killed in a clash in North Cotabato, amid peace talks between the government and communist leaders in Rome, Italy.
According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 10th Infantry Division, the fighting erupted in Sitio Lokatong in Barangay Biangan in Makilala town, North Cotabato at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
“A clash erupted between New People’s Army rebels and government forces over the weekend in a communist-infiltrated village,” a state-run news agency said citing police and military reports.
The Philippine News Agency also said five other rebels were injured in clash with government troops in an hour-long firefight.
Army Colonel Harold Argamosa, 39th Infantry Battalion commanding officer, said government forces responded to information that communist rebels had harassed a driver and a banana cargo firm truck in North Cotabato.
The soldiers were heading towards Barangay Biangan at 5 p.m. when they were fired upon by still undetermined number of rebels.
On Sunday, the NPA Southern Mindanao spokesman, Rigoberto Sanchez, also confirmed that eight soldiers and one NPA rebel were killed in a firefight Saturday.
The clashes erupted amid peace talks between the government and NPA, as peace negotiations entered their third round in Rome, Italy.
Peace negotiators on both sides on Saturday signed the supplemental guidelines of a joint monitoring committee under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
Government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III underlined the need for a bilateral cease-fire so they will know what the violations are and how these violations will be treated.
But his counterpart in the communist National Democratic Front (NDF), chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili, said a signing of a joint bilateral cease-fire will depend on the government panel.
He reiterated their demand for the release of 392 political prisoners.
Since March 1969, the NPA — the armed wing of Communist Party of the Philippines — has been waging one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies in the country, which — according to the military — has claimed thousands of lives over the past eight years.