Davao del Sur explosions hurt 17

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Monday, March 3, 2014

DAVAO - (Updated) -- Five civilians and 12 troops were wounded in landmine explosions allegedly perpetrated by the New People's Army (NPA) in Bansalan town, Davao del Sur on Sunday.

The first explosion occurred around 11:18 a.m. Sunday at Sitio Balutakay in Barangay Managa, Bansalan while troops maneuvered as they battle with NPA rebels. At least 12 soldiers were wounded in the attack.

Injured were First Lieutenant Ian Rogel Ngalew, Corporal Toto Imar, Second Lieutenant Joesepher Ansay, Corporal Joefrey Espina, and Private First Class (Pfc.) Brian Ferrer, Pfc. Rowell L. de Guzman, Pfc. Jovane L. Adam, Pfc. Edwin Mamalinta, Private Gonzalo G. Gella Jr., Private Rodel John Reynalda, Corporal Rufino Aquas Jr., and Cafgu Almadine A. Ongot. They all belong to the 39th Infantry Battalion.

The NPA rebels later set off a landmine as three ambulances owned by Davao del Sur Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), Philippine Red Cross-Davao del Sur Chapter, and Army's 39th Infantry Battalion were heading to evacuate the injured troops.

Wounded in the second explosion, which occurred around 7:30 p.m. at Sitio Tower, Barangay Managa, also in Bansalan, were civilians Henaro Dumayas, Ivan Malingo, Bonita dela Cruz, Arnel Valeroso, and Alberto Cabual Jr., all volunteers of the PDRRMC and Red Cross.

Army's 1002nd Brigade's Public Affairs officer Captain Alfred Rodriguez said Dumayas and Cabual are both in critical condition. The two and the other three wounded volunteers were brought to Digos Doctors Hospital.

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Rodriguez said the three ambulances on convoy tripped on the improvised bomb fashioned out as a landmine while on the way to pick up the soldiers wounded in the clash and landmine attack in Sitio Balutakay.

Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) Public Information Office head Captain Alberto Caber said the rebels involved in the clash Sunday morning were members of the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee Guerilla Front 51 led by one Menandro Villanueva, alias Ka Nelson.

Cases of frustrated murder and violation to the International Humanitarian Law will be filed against the NPA rebels responsible for the attacks, said Armed Forces of the Philippines human rights division chief Colonel Sonny Tutaan.

Based on initial information, Menandro Villanueva (alias Nelson), a secretary of the Front 51, directed their comrade Roberto Rosete (alias Bobby), secretary of the NPA Sub-Regional Committee 3, to attack the ambulances, Rodriguez said.

Residents in the area reported that the NPA rebels brought with them four dead and several wounded comrades after the encounter at Sitio Don Carlos in Managa, Caber said.

Army Colonel Marcos Normal Flores Jr., a brigade commander in the area, said Monday that he condemned the attacks as they violate the international humanitarian law.

The Eastmincom said the use of landmine is prohibited to prevent damages to civilians and civilian properties, a gross violation to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law.

Eastmincom chief Lieutenant General Ricardo Rainier Cruz III has directed the military commanders in the area to pursue operations in coordination with the police against the NPA rebels.

“We call on various human rights group to investigate this incident. We appeal to the peace-loving community to join us in bringing lasting peace in the region,” Cruz said.

The rebellion began in the late 1960s with a ragtag group armed with a few rifles. The movement peaked during the repressive years under dictator Ferdinand Marcos with several thousand full-time guerrillas.

Though it remains one of the world's longest-running Marxist insurgencies, the rebel movement has grown considerably weaker in recent years due to battle setbacks, surrenders and factionalism. They remain a national security concern.

Talks to end the rebellion have stalled since 2011 due to disagreements between the government and rebels over the release of several jailed rebel leaders. (ICT of Sun.Star Davao/Bong Garcia/AP/Sunnex)

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