Three alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were suspects in Sunday's bomb attack in Masbate City were killed during a hot pursuit operations on Tuesday, government forces said.
In a statement, the Joint Task Force Bicolandia said the 9th Infantry Division and Police Regional Office 5 conducted the operation after residents reported about the presence of the rebels in Barangay Anas.
Around 5:30 a.m., the operating troops scoured the area and encountered at least 30 NPA members. The firefight lasted for 15 minutes until the rebels fled.
Recovered items were 11 M16 rifles, an M653 rifle, three M16 rifles, an M14 rifle, various war materials, and propaganda materials, the task force said.
On Sunday, college football player Kieth Absalon, 21, and his uncle were killed in Masbate City after a bomb and gun attack allegedly perpetrated by the NPA. A teenager was also injured.
Lieutenant Colonel Siegfried Felipe Awichen, commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB), attributed the operation's success to the informants who tipped off the location of the communist insurgents.
Colobel Aldwine Almase, commander of the 903rd Infantry Brigade, assured the public that the Army and police will not stop until the perpetrators are put behind bars.
"Our persistent operations will continue to make sure that those who participated in this crime will rot in prison," he said.
In a separate statement, the PRO5 said the operating team are still conducting hot pursuit operations for the possible arrest of the other perpetrators.
This effort is part of the action being undertaken by the government to identify the persons behind Sunday's explosion, it added.
PRO5 chief Police Brigadier General Jonnel Estomo encouraged the perpetrators to surrender.
“Alalahanin ninyo ang inyong mga pamilya. Para sa kanila, sumuko na lamang kayo (Think about your family. Just surrender, for them),” he said.
JTF Bicolandia commander Major General Henry Robinson Jr. warned the rebels that they are “doomed once they do not surrender and admit to their crimes.” —Joviland Rita/KBK, GMA News