IRIGA City -- Troops from the Army’s 9th Infantry Division encountered communist rebels anew in remote Bgy. Sta. Isabel on Wednesday morning, resulting the rescue of two women and several children attending “teach-in”, 9th ID spokesperson Lt. Col. Butch Regencia said.
Barangay Chairwoman Lilia Gil of Bgy. Sta. Isabel confirmed to local reporters that they heard sporadic gunfires at about 6 a.m.
After about half an hour to Zone 7, Bgy. Sta. Isabel, Gil said she met Army troops, who asked her the identities of the two women and several children they rescued.
Gil told the soldiers they are not residents in the area.
One of the residents, a certain Maria, claimed she was almost caught in a crossfire when the rebels went the house of her in-laws to cook food.
Gil said the rescued women and children were handed over by Army troops to a police community outpost in Bgy. Sagrada, this city, to be assisted by the City Social Welfare Office (CSWO).
Village officials in Sta. Isabel claimed it was the first time that government troops encountered rebels in the locality.
Meanwhile at Camp Simeon Ola, Legazpi City, Police Regional Office 5 spokesperson Chief Insp. Maria Luisa Calubaquib reported that over 130 police commandos or Special Action Force (SAF) units have already arrived in the camp.
The elite police force was dispatched upon the directive of PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde in pursuance to President Duterte’s Memorandum Order 32 to address incidents of lawlessness in Bicol, Samar and the Negros provinces.
Calubaquib said the bulk of the 130 SAF members will be sent to CamSur and Masbate provinces where NPA rebels have been active since last October.
She added that police personnel in the region were beefed up by SAF units due to intense political rivalry in the gubernatorial race in CamSur and reported presence of private armed groups earlier sighted in San Fernando.