Activist turned NPA wounded in encounter in Nueva Ecija

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SAN JOSE, NUEVA ECIJA – A former activist from Pampanga was one of the wounded NPAs during an encounter with government troops in Barangay Estrella, Rizal, Nueva Ecija last November 14. The NPA is 33 years old Redsa Balatan alias Lea/Sinin/Julia who is the Political Instructor of Kilusang Larangang Guerilla Sierra Madre operating in Northern Nueva Ecija and parts of Aurora.

Balatan is the wife of Gerald “Geary” Salonga who died in another encounter in September 2, 2018 in Brgy. Villa, Maria, Aurora Province. The two were students of the University of the Philippines – Extension Program in Pampanga (UPDEPP). Geary before his death was first arrested in August 2014 with another NPA, Guiller Cadano. At that time, they claimed that they were activists from Kabataan Partylist and AnakBayan. Cadano also died in an encounter in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija last September 20, 2017.

The encounter was brought about by a report of a concerned civilian on extortion and recruitment activities in Barangay Estrella. A 15 minute encounter ensued when responding government troops went to the area. The encounter also resulted to the death of two other NPAs, the wounding of 3 (including Balatan) and capture of one. Recovered were two M16 rifles, three cal .45 pistols and other war materiels.

“This is solid evidence of the connection between legal fronts and the NPA,” said Lieutenant Colonel Honorato Pascual Jr., Commander of 84th Infantry Battalion who has operational jurisdiction of Northern Nueva Ecija. “They organize from the schools through groups like Kabataan, Anakbayan, LFS and the others in order to facilitate recruitment to the NPA,” he further stated.

The bodies of the deceased NPA are now awaiting to be claimed by their relatives while the wounded were brought to Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center for them to be given the appropriate medical attention.