CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao, Philippines - Troops of the 37th Infantry Battalion, under 603rd Infantry Brigade, foiled a communist NPA (CNT) attempt to attack and burn heavy equipment at a construction site currently undertaking a road-concreting project in Brgy. Hinalaan, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat last week.
Soldiers securing the government flagship project clashed with around 30 CNTs who approached the construction site last Tuesday, even despite the presence of civilian workers.
A firefight broke-out at 2:30 p.m. while the soldiers held their ground at the project site preventing the militants from getting close. The latter scampered 40 minutes later to different directions after more troops arrived and maneuvered.
One soldier was slightly wounded from shrapnel, while there could be more wounded among the militants as there were traces of blood found at the encounter site. Parts of M16 rifles and ammunition were also recovered during a clearing operation.
The troops identified the group under the West Daguma Front headed by Datu Gawa Gantangan and Glenn Sakudal a.k.a. Dennis belonging to the Far South Mindanao Region.
According to Lt. Col. Allen Van Estrera, Commanding Officer of 37th IB, the CNT harassment was intended to pressure the construction company, JANMERC Construction, to give in to their extortion demands and pay protection money.
"The demands were repeatedly denied by the management. The militants were also disrupting the completion of the road project as it will provide easy access of government services in the geographically isolated communities in this upland barangay were NPA members try to infiltrate," Lt. Col. Estrera said Monday.
Brig. Gen. Wilbur Mamawag, Commander of 603rd Infantry Brigade said that the sustained vigilance of 37th IB troops have established a secured environment which allows the implementation of government projects reach the far-flung barangays to benefit the less-privileged and isolated communities.
Meanwhile, Joint Task Force Central Commander Maj. Gen. Diosdado C. Carreon said that troops remained on high alert following an incident of torching heavy equipment by the CNT on June 15 in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
"We will not let our guard down and we will do our utmost effort to prevent the CNT from their treacherous activities to sabotage government and private projects," Maj. Gen. Carreon stressed.