By: Ruel Saldico and Liezle Basa Iñigo
CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur – Two soldiers were killed while seven others were wounded in an encounter with suspected New People’s Army rebels yesterday in Barangay Casili, Gubat, Sorsogon.
Lt. Col. Randy Espino, commanding officer of the 31st Infantry Battalion, said troops were conducting combat operations when they chanced upon an undetermined number of NPA rebels.
A 30-minute gunfight ensued in which the rebels also used landmines against the troops. Identities of the two soldiers were withheld while their next of kin are being notified.
Espino said the loss of the two brave soldiers will serve as inspiration for other troops in the area to continue their mandate of serving the people and securing the Sorsogon against the communist terrorist group.
The 31st IB has been conducting combat operations against the NPA that was monitored to be planning to conduct violent activities against government troops and civilians in Sorsogon.
Meanwhile, the police and military have ordered the temporary suspension of the construction of the Villa Verde Trail following a recent encounter in San Nicolas, Pangasinan.
Department of Public Works and Highways Engr. Narchito Arpilleda, administrative officer, said work on the road that will become an alternate road from Manila to Isabela and Cagayan was suspended for the safety of at least 100 personnel.
Engr. Larry Flores, DPWH resident engineer, reiterated their commitment to finish the project by December. “We committed to DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar that the Villa Verde Trail will be finished and opened in December.”
Flores said they are awaiting the go-signal to resume and vowed to work double time to finish the project. “Hahabol kami sa aming pangako kay Secretary.”
One policeman was killed while another was wounded in the encounter in Barangay Malico.
The project was conceived during the administration of President Ferdinand E. Marcos but it was only during the time of President Benigno S. Aquino III that it began following requests made by officials of Pangasinan led by Sixth District Board Member Ranjit Ramos Shahani.