CAFGU member dies in government-NPA encounter
Jennifer P. Rendon (The Freeman) - September 11, 2018 - 12:00am

ILOILO CITY, Philippines — A member of the Philippine Army's Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) was killed during a firefight between soldiers and New People’s Army rebels Sunday afternoon at Barangay Agcarope, a hinterland village 20 kilometers away from Janiuay town proper in Iloilo.

Senior Inspector John Paul Guay, Janiuay Police chief, identified the victim as Virgilio Loraña, 41, a resident of the nearby Barangay Monte Magapa in Janiuay, and a member of CAFGU, based at Barangay Jayobo in Lambunao town, Iloilo.

Guay said Loraña sustained a gunshot wound on the back of his body and a stab injury on the right portion of his abdomen.

The wounded Loraña was airlifted to the 301st Infantry Battalion headquarters in Dingle, Iloilo at 6:30 p.m., where an ambulance rushed him to the Iloilo Provincial Hospital in Pototan, Iloilo. He was however declared dead on arrival at the hospital.

Lieutenant Colonel Sesinando Magbalot, Jr., 61st Infantry Battalion commander, said incessant rains deterred Army helicopters to fly to the encounter site. He said Army personnel from the 61st IB and the Jayobo CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) Detachment were conducting security patrol when they learned that around 10 to 15 rebels were at Agcarope village.

Loraña was part of the team because he knew the terrain of the area. Amid heavy rains, the government troops waited for around 30 minutes before engaging the rebels.  Magbalot said there were only five houses in the area, and some rebels reportedly stayed at the house of Barangay Councilman Romulo Lentija, while the others were at another house where there were three children inside. Magbalot added that there were rebels who were outside the two houses when the gunbattle occurred.

The rebels were members of the Baloy Platoon, Sangay Partido Pampropaganda of the NPA-Komiteng Rehiyon Panay’s Central Front Committee. “We don’t want any civilians who will get hit during the exchange of fire. We were restrained from doing our offensives,” Magbalot said.

At the first burst of gunfire, the rebels took Lentija and tanod Gilbert Sales as hostages. “We could not really pursue them because they took two persons as human shields,” Magbalot said.

The rebels subsequently released Lentija and Sales. Before the rebels withdrew, a 15-minute firefight took place, said the military commander.  It was theorized that the escaping rebels have caught up with Loraña and shot and stabbed him. “We saw that there were two rebels who got wounded during the firefight,” Magbalot said. (FREEMAN) 

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