Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija – The combined elements of the Army’s 703rd Infantry Brigade and PNP rescued four (4) minors and captured five (5) NPA bandits (Aetas) operating in Zambales from the encounter site with the NPA at Sitio Lomibao, Brgy Buhawen, San Marcelino, Zambales on 21 August 2020.
According to Brigadier General Andrew Costelo PA, the Commander of the 703rd Infantry Brigade, the rescue of the minors was made thru the efforts of the Army’s 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion and PNP counterparts in Zambales.
“Upon rescue, they were given medical check-up by Dr. Nida Pabunal, Municipal Health Officer (MHO) of San Marcelino District Hospital before their immediate turn over to San Marcelino Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer, Sarah Soria, for an interview and proper disposition,” said Brig. Gen. Costelo.
The five captured NPAs mixed themselves with the rescued minors, but were later identified as NPA members. They are now under the custody of PNP Zambales for proper disposition. Like the minors rescued, they were also checked medically by MHO San Marcelino and were found to be in good health.
“Sa gitna ng palitan ng putok, pasok sa aming prayoridad ang kaligtasan ng ating mga kababayan. Ang pakikidigma ng mga sundalo ay upang ipagtanggol ang bansa. Hanggat maari, iniiwasan namin ang may madamay na sibilyan. Handa kaming humarap sa panganib at itaya ang aming buhay kung kinakailangan para sa kaligtasan ng mga sibilyan,” added by Brig. Gen. Costelo.
The armed encounter resulted to the recovery of eight (8) backpacks; subversive documents; ATM owned by certain Paulo M Advincula; receipt of M’Lhuillier with an address at Balanga Bataan; receipt of merchandise; eleven (11) rounds shotgun; 2 rounds M203; 10rounds Cal .40; 23 rounds of Cal .45; two (2) rounds M16; 48 rounds of M14 of ammunitions.
Consequently, on August 22, the Army, while scouring and tracking at the peripheries of the encounter site recovered one (1) ammunition box of Cal .45; twenty (27) pcs M14 ammunition; four (4) backpacks; three (3) box M16 ammunition; one (1) trigger mechanism; and subversive documents.
According to 7th Infantry Division Commander, Major General Alfredo Rosario Jr., the capture of the five NPA members of the Aeta Tribe is a manifestation of exploitation being done by NPA bandits to the members of our Indigenous People.
“Instead of protecting the Indigenous People, the bandits are blatantly exploiting them for their own interest. They lure these innocent people to join the armed struggle and transform them into violent individuals. I am encouraging the Indigenous People’s leaders to police their ranks in order to avoid NPA recruitment,” said Maj. Gen. Rosario Jr.