TACLOBAN CITY, May 11– The Philippine Army confirmed that communist rebels are trying to re-establish their presence in Leyte after a clash between government troops and armed rebels in an upland village of Hilongos, Leyte early morning on Wednesday.
The encounter in a peaceful town in the southern part of Leyte province is a proof that the New People’s Army (NPA) is making efforts to reorganize their movements, said Brig. Gen. Francisco Mendoza, Jr., commander of Army’s 802nd brigade in Leyte.
The military reported that concerned villagers tipped the troops on the presence of about 25 NPA members in upland San Antonio village while asking for revolutionary taxes from locals around 6:40 a.m. on Wednesday.
After the clash, military troops recovered two AK-47 rifles, six magazines, 158 live ammunition, two bandoleers, assorted food stuffs, medicines, and subversive documents.
“There was no casualty on the government side, but there were some who were wounded from the side of our enemy,” Mendoza said in a mobile phone interview Wednesday night.
Hilongos town has been considered as rebel-free area for decades. Recent sightings of rebels are part of NPA’s long term effort to strengthen their presence in Leyte, Mendoza said,
“We established checkpoints along possible entries and exits of withdrawals of the enemy and to verify possible accommodation of wounded enemy in nearby hospital,” Mendoza added.
Hilongos town Mayor Albert Villahermosa said the local government and communities had been working together to prevent recruitment of new rebels.
“The group tries to re-establish in the area that they once reigned in the 1980s, but they find difficulty in penetrating considering that the people have learned their lessons,” Villahermosa told PNA.
Hilongos is a second class town, 138 kilometers south of Tacloban, the regional capital.(Elvie Roman Roa/PNA)