ARMY TROOPS PURSUE REDS SPOTTED IN DANDING'S FISHPOND

CAMP AQUINO, TARLAC, September 8, 2003 (STAR) By Benjie Villa  - The commanding officer of the Armed Forces’ Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) is personally supervising the pursuit of a band of breakaway communist guerrillas whom government troopers encountered last Saturday in a fishpond owned by business tycoon Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr. in Pampanga.

Lt. Col. Preme Monta, Nolcom spokesman, said Lt. Gen. Romeo Dominguez, who heads all troops deployed north of Metro Manila, flew to Lubao town aboard a military chopper yesterday morning.

Elements of the Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion engaged some 20 guerrillas of the Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan (RHB) in a 45-minute gunfight in Barangay San Rafael Baruya in Lubao the other day.

The rebels were reportedly extorting money from the caretakers of Cojuangco’s fishpond.

The military said a suspected RHB fighter, a certain Blando Pasol, was slain in the gunbattle, and that an M-16 Armalite rifle was seized at the scene.

The RHB is the armed wing of the Marxist-Leninist Party of the Philippines, a breakaway faction of the mainstream Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

In other developments:

• Two guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA), the CPP’s armed unit, were killed in a 30-minute encounter with government troopers in Barangay Cabaluyan in San Clemente, Tarlac.

• In Nueva Ecija, spouses Romeo and Elvira Damian, who were former NPA guerrillas, were gunned down by suspected members of the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (HMB), the supposedly defunct armed wing of the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, in Cabiao town.

• Government troops overran two major NPA camps in Bontoc, Mt. Province over the weekend. One of the camps reportedly served as an administrative center of the Kilusang Larangang Gerilya of the rebels’ Cordillera Party Committee. — With Charlie Lagasca


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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