Government troops and an undetermined number of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels figured in an armed encounter early Friday (April 9) morning in Barangay Concepcion, Puerto Princesa City resulting to one rebel casualty.

A statement released by the Western Command (WESCOM) said troops of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 (MBLT-3) Joint Task Group-North encountered fully-armed rebels in the vicinity of Sitio Karangyan in Concepcion. 

Palawan News sources said the firefight was brief and lasted only about 10 minutes before the rebels retreated. Government troops reportedly recovered one KG 9 sub-machinegun from the retreating rebels. There was no reported casualty from the government side.

Barangay Captain Job Francisco has sought government help to evacuate some 29 indigenous Batak families “para sa safety ng ating mga katutubong Batak”.

He said he received an appeal from the indigenous community from IPMR Rustico Mauricio, who came down from the remote village after hearing about the encounter.

“Bumaba siya para humingi nga ng tulong para doon sa mga katutubo na gustong magpa-evacuate at kung anong advice natin. Ang advice natin bumaba na lang at asikasuhin sa baba para ma-secure din ang kanilang seguridad. Tutulungan natin sila sa kanilang pagkain,” Francisco told Palawan News.

WESCOM commander Vice Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez, in a statement, thanked the local community for their successful military operation.

“I am proud of our Community Support Program (CSP) teams in the area. The effectiveness of their efforts in defending the communities from terrorist infiltration and clearing the communities from enemy’s affectation has protected them from being vulnerable from enemy deception and unlawful activities,” Vice Admiral Enriquez said.

“Our operations are relentless and so we urge once again the remaining communist terrorists to put their arms down, to return to the fold of the law, and to be reintegrated in the mainstream society so that they can have better lives. If they won’t, we will hunt them down and they will have to face the awful price of their terroristic acts and see their lives put to waste,” Enriquez added. (with reports from Loren Jane Tumalac)