CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao (PNA) – The Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) here honored Wednesday afternoon a member of a Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT-2) who perished during an encounter between government forces and communist guerillas in the coastal town of Sultan Kudarat on Monday.
Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr, Western Mindanao command chief, led the Joint Task Force Central headed by Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, also 6th ID chief, in honoring Marine Private Albino B. Bahian III, 24, who died when Marine troopers engaged communist New Peoples Army (NPA) guerillas in Sitio Tinagdanan, Barangay Hinalaan, Kala-mansig, Sultan Kudarat
The Marines were on security patrol in Hinalaan, a community of Indigenous Peoples, as part of the military’s strategy in winning the hearts and minds of communities being influenced by communist rebels.
At around 10 a.m., the Marines, on board a 6-by-6 truck, was ambushed by rebels belonging to Guerilla Front 73 under Tirzo Sakudal alias “Commander MacMac.”
Marine intelligence officers, quoting statements from residents of Barangay Hinalaan and on condition of anonymity, told reporters that six rebels were killed and 11 others wounded when the Marines fired artillery toward the rebels’ position.
Pursuit military operations continue against the guerillas as of press time.
The military also awarded medals to nine other injured Marine troopers identified as SSgt Alexander C. Falcasantos, Corporals Joseph C. Accad, Castle S. Camu, Robert Paul C de Asis and Marlon C. Ampao and Private First Class Kenneth Dave A. Calaycay and Glenn C. Genova, and Private Jared R. Sugagil.
Mayor Ronan Eugene Garcia of Kalamansig condemned the attacks by communist rebels, whom he accused of influencing the IPs in Barangay Hinalaan to rebel against the government.
“My salute to Private Bahian,” he said. “The people of Kalamansig do not deserve harassment, extortion and atrocities by communist rebels,” he added.
“There are no NPAs in Kalamansig,” Garcia said of his town of 50,000 people. “We do not need you here, we are peaceful here,” he told the rebels in a radio interview.
Garcia said the rebels were from Sen. Ninoy Aquino town, also in Sultan Kudarat, who were trying to infiltrate the upland communities of Kalamansig.