During five consecutive confrontations in San Isidro, Northern Samar, a high-ranking New People’s Army (NPA) terrorist leader was killed, while another was wounded.
Several high- and low-powered rifles, ammunition, IEDs, claymore mines, and grenades were also seized.
On the morning of December 21, 2020, the 43rd Infantry Battalion forces and the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNT) had their first encounter in Barangay Happy Valley, San Isidro.
Jerry Lutao, aka “Apple,” the Secretary of Front Committee 2, Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) Emporium, Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC), was killed in the 30-minute gunfight, and his body was left behind by the retreating CNT.
The army also stormed the CNT’s makeshift camp. An M16, M4, M4KG,.38 revolver, magazines, two rifle grenades, a hand grenade, four IEDs, a claymore mine, bomb triggering devices, backpacks, smartphones, generator sets, medical supplies, the NPA flag, and subversive materials were all successfully captured.
On the morning of December 22, 2020, while on a pursuit operation in the same barrio, the same CNT force and the 43IB engaged in another 10-minute gunfight.
There were no casualties on the government side, however there was an indeterminate casualty on the enemy side.
Five hours later, in the neighborhood of Sitio Agsam, Barangay Happy Valley, San Isidro, another confrontation occurred, resulting in the confiscation of two shotguns, one caliber. Cellphones and bags, as well as a .38 revolver with ammunition and one magazine of a .45 pistol filled with 7 rounds of ammunition.
The fourth encounter took place in the early morning hours of December 23, 2020, around Km 14, Barangay Happy Valley in the same town.
When an NPA, later identified as Jonas Dela Torre alias Jonel, 36, Team Leader of Squad Uno, Front Committee 2, was wounded, the troops administered quick first assistance. An AK47 rifle was recovered from Dela Torres’ possession.
Troops from the 43rd IB fought in a 15-minute gunfire with three CNTs still at Barangay Happy Valley, San Isidro, Northern Samar, only hours before Christmas Eve. Two M16 rifles, magazines, ammunition, and one homemade hand grenade were recovered at the contact location. The chase operation is still ongoing.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Raymundo C. Picut Jr, the 43rd IB Commanding Officer, they are closely watching the actions of the Communist Party of the Philippines New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) this holiday season because it is planning atrocities in the Province.
“Maliban sa panggugulo ngayong kapaskuhan sa mga remote at vulnerable areas ay magsasagawa rin sila ng mga tactical offensives sa mga military detachments at police stations lalo na ngayong nalalapit na rin ang ika-52 anibersaryo ng CPP,” Picut said.
The Communist Terrorists are unlikely to have a major meeting for the CPP’s founding anniversary on December 26 due to the NPA’s declining ranks, according to 8th Infantry Division Commander Major General Pio Q Dinoso III. He informed the people of Eastern Visayas that troops would be stationed in the area to ensure a meaningful and quiet Christmas.
“Bilib at hanga ako sa lakas at determinasyon ng ating mga tropa. Gamit ang ating makabagong technology, military assets kasama ang ating K9 team at mga pursigidong sundalo at sa tulong ng mga residente, hindi natin titigilan ang pagtugis sa mga teroristang NPA hanggang sa magapi natin sila. Maliban na lamang kung mapag-pasyahan na nilang sumuko para maibalik natin sila ng buhay sa kanilang mga pamilya.” Major General Diñoso added.
Lt. Gen Roberto T Ancan, Commander of AFP Central Command, praised the troops for their efforts and commitment to ensuring the security and safety of the communities in their area of operations, even during the holiday season.