By Sarwell Meniano

FIGHTING INSURGENTS. The aerial view of upland Roxas village in Catubig, Northern Samar. Soldiers recovered on Thursday (Feb. 29, 2024) war materiel and anti-personnel mine components and dismantled a rebel’s lair following a clash with New People’s Army rebels. (Photo courtesy of Barangay Roxas, Catubig Facebook)

TACLOBAN CITY – Government troops recovered on Thursday war materiel and anti-personnel mine (APM) components and ran over a rebel’s lair following a clash with members of the New People’s Army (NPA) on the outskirts of Catubig, Northern Samar.

The Philippine Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion said 30 armed rebels from the NPA’s Front Committee 15 left the war materiel and bomb components after a brief gunbattle in upland Barangay Roxas in Catubig town.

Lt. Col. Richard Villaflor, acting commander of the Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion, said the clash occurred late Thursday while troops were responding to reports of armed men extorting essential supplies from villagers.

The rebels left behind an M16 rifle, five kilograms of APM components, a 30-round magazine, 14 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition, two rounds of 5.57 mm ball ammunition, 50-meter wire, three backpacks, a blasting cap, and subversive documents.

The troops also dismantled a temporary lair with 20 makeshift sleeping cots, allegedly occupied by NPA combatants for about a week.

“We remain committed to eradicating this threat and ensuring the safety and prosperity of Northern Samar,” Villaflor said in a statement.

Roxas village is situated 15 kilometers away from the Catubig town center and can be reached through a five-minute motorboat ride and another one-hour single motorcycle ride.

The village is hardly accessible during rainy days.

The community is one of the conflict-affected villages in the province, infiltrated by the NPA through intimidation and extortion. (PNA)