A soldier of the Philippine Marines was wounded in an encounter with armed rebels Monday afternoon in the hinterlands of Sitio Bayog, Barangay Aribungos in Brooke’s Point.

Western Command (WESCOM) spokesperson Lt. Col. Stephen Penetrante confirmed the report, but said they are yet to receive full details regarding this as hot pursuit operation is still ongoing.

“As of the moment, wala pa kaming nare-receive na ibang report kasi naghihintay din kami ng progress kasi ongoing ang operation up to this time,” he said.

He said the wounded soldier is from the Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4).

Ongoing hot pursuit operation is being conducted by government troops in the area where bloodstains were seen along the trail where the rebels retreated, he said.

“Nangyari siya around 1:40 to 1:45 p.m., naka-receive yong ating mga tropa sa MBLT-4 ng mga information galing sa residente regarding the presence of armed men. They were threatening the locals to join them and demand logistical support,” he said.

“Yong mga tropa natin ay mandate yan to confirm this one, itong sumbong ng mga local leaders natin. When they went there, they were engaged by this armed men — undetermined pa kung ilang CTGs, pero yong encounter 10-15 minutes. Nag-withdraw sila, during the ongoing pursuit operation, nakakita po yong mga tropa natin ng mga blood stains sa area of withdrawal nila,” Penetrante added.

In a press release by the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF ELCAC), MBLT-4 commander Lt. Col. Prisco Tabo, said the encounter with the armed rebels occurred while they were conducting their Community Support Program (CSP) to bridge the gap between local governments and distant communities.

He said while they were conducting their CSP in different barangays in southern Palawan, they came to confirm “the presence of the rebels taking shelter in the forested parts of Aribungos”.

He said some residents in Aribungos found a way to inform the ground forces about the rebels who were recruiting them into the communist movement, subsequently demanding for logistical support.

Brig. Gen. Nestor Herico, commander of the 3MBde lauded the civilian community for their courage of denouncing the presence of the rebels in their community.

He said in the PTF ELCAC statement that they appreciate the efforts of the local leaders of the barangay for protecting their community from the “perils of the communist group”.

(With reports from Aira Genesa Magdayao)

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