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Military recovers mines, ammo after Albay encounter with alleged NPA rebels

Philippine security forces were able to recover eight landmines, 1,747 rounds of ammunition, and 180 meters of electrical wire in the same Albay province area where the bodies of four victims of a Cessna plane crash were being recovered.

According to Philippine Army 9th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office commander Major Franco Roldan, the items were recovered on Saturday, February 25, a few days after two soldiers who were part of the retrieval efforts, Privates John Paul Adalim and Mark June Esico, were shot dead by alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Roldan said the army had identified personalities involved in the shooting. While he declined to elaborate, the Army major added that the NPA forces in the area had been significantly weakened.

“Pahina na sila nang pahina, konti na lang… Wala nang safe na lugar dito para sa kanila kaya ‘yun ‘yung pino-project nila na malakas pa, para ng sa ganon ay makapangikil pa sila,” Roldan said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.

(They are weakening. Just a little more… There are no safe places here for them so they are projecting that they are still strong so they can continue with their extortion activities.)

Roldan said the government had initiated seven encounters with communist terrorist groups (CTG) in the area since the start of the year, during which 11 personalities were killed and 19 high-powered firearms were recovered.

Recovery effort

Meanwhile, the 9th Infantry Division continued to assist in the effort to retrieve the bodies at the Cessna plane wreckage site located at the west side slope of Mayon Volcano.

Those killed in the crash were Capt. Rufino James Crisostomo, Joel Martin, Simon Chipperfield, and Karthi Santhanam who were on board the aircraft last contacted at 6:46 a.m. last Saturday, February 18.

According to the latest update sent to him at 12 p.m. on Sunday, Roldan said the bodies were close to the base camp. But he could not definitively say if they had arrived as of Sunday evening.

“Nahirapan lang daw sila kasi ‘yung lupa medyo sandy eh, tapos malambot. Every time na hahakbang sila, lumulubog at gumuguho ‘yung lupa… Napakadelikado sa kanila kung kaya’t naging maingat sila,” he said.

(They were finding it difficult because the ground was sandy and soft. Every time they moved they would sink and the ground would give way… It is dangerous, which is why they were being careful.) — DVM, GMA Integrated News