Iloilo clash death toll climbs to 16

Jennifer Rendon - The Philippine Star

ILOILO CITY, Philippines — The death toll in the encounter between New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and government troopers in Miag-ao town on Wednesday has doubled.

Citing the latest body count, the Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade (IB) confirmed yesterday that 16 NPA guerrillas were killed in the clash compared to initial reports of eight.

Brig. Gen. Marion Sison, 301st IB commander, said among the reported fatalities were Joeven Ceralvo, alias Lex, commander of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay Southern Front, and his wife.

Sison said 15 NPA guerrillas were also reportedly wounded in the clash.

Authorities said three M16 rifles, an AK47, four land mines, a hand grenade, a projector, three detonating cords and subversive documents of high intelligence value were recovered at the scene.

Personnel of the police’s Scene of the Crime Operation were deployed at the site of the encounter in Sitio Burak in Barangay Alimodias yesterday.

Sison said the military launched the offensive after receiving reports that the rebels planned to attack military detachments and police stations ahead of the 53rd anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“They were in fact doing a rehearsal on how to carry out their plan,” he said.

The Iloilo police urged the rebels to surrender their wounded comrades so they could be provided medical care.

Col. Gilbert Gorero, Iloilo police chief, said they received reports that some of the wounded rebels did not seek medical attention fearing that they would be accused of being traitors by their comrades.

“We assure them of their safety. They will also be treated humanely,” Gorero said.

He said members of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict would attend to the wounded rebels.

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