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BONGABON, Nueva Ecija –The 703rd Infantry (Agila) Brigade under Col Andrew D Costelo, exerted all efforts to be able to lay to rest the body of Joy Cantero Omania, resident of Brgy. PacoRoman, Rizal, of this province.

Joy Cantero Omania was killed in an armed encounter between government security forces against more or less 20 members of the Komiteng Larangan Guerilla Sierra Madre at Brgy. Villa, Maria Aurora, Aurora before sunset of November 19, 2019.

Prior to the encounter, 703rd(Agila) Brigade received reports about the presence of armed terrorists conducting extortion and demanding food and other supplies from poor residents of said barangay.

To address the situation, Lt. Col Jose Mari F Torrenueva II, Commanding Officer of 91st Infantry (Sinagtala) Battalion under direct orders from Colonel Costelo, conducted Focused Military Operation in the area. While on their way, the troops were fired upon leaving them no option but to retaliate and defend themselves.

The firefight lasted for less than an hour and bore no casualties from the government’s side. Recovered in the area were one (1) M-16A1 Rifle with defacedserial number, 130 ammunition, seven backpacks, two land mines, three radio antenna, assorted medical supplies, CPP/NPA/NDF flags and subversive documents and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).

Omania also known as Jojo, 26, was positively identified by her brother Rex, was airlifted from the mountainous areas of Maria Aurora to the nearest municipality of Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija. Cpt Jimson S. Masankay, 703rd Brigade’s Civil-Military Operations Officer, 703rd Brigade immediately sought help from the Local Government Unit (LGU) under Mayor Jovy Emata, which paved the way for Omania’s proper burial receiving her final Christian rites, officiated by lay ministers El Cielo Jintalan and Orlando Del Rosario at the Bantug Public Cemetery, Bantug, Gabaldon.

Colonel Costelo appeals to the remaining members of Communist Terrorist Group operating in Region 3 to lay down their arms and return to the fold of law and avail the benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and start a new life. Agila troopers remain steadfast as they continuously provide peace and development in its area of concern, uphold human rights and religiously follow rules of engagement in battlefields.

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