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Hundreds flee as Army-NPA clash

Army soldiers recently clashed with members of the New People’s Army, who allegedly liquidated Punong Barangay Mario Gonzales on August 30, in Barangay Panciao in Manjuyod town.

The firefight between the soldiers and the rebel-suspects accused of executing Gonzales prompted almost 500 residents to flee their homes and seek refuge in the neighboring villages and up to the town proper, which is at least 35 kilometers away.

Captain Allen Mark Tacorda, Civil Military Operations Officer of the 62nd Infantry Battalion reported that the victim was shot outside his home and his family tried to transport him to the hospital to no avail.

Panciao, is considered one of the remotest upland barangays with rebel presence being situated in the tri-boundaries of Bindoy, Mabinay and Manjuyod.

Vice-Mayor Joan Abuso alerted the town’s Chief-of-Police after receiving report that Punong Barangay Gonzales was attacked by three men and sustained gunshot wounds in different parts of his body.

Soldiers of the 15th Infantry Battalion were attending a ceremony at the Barangay Hall and launched pursuit operations to apprehend or engage the fleeing rebels.

Evacuees are now being attended to by the barangay officials and social workers from the municipal government. Military officials have condemned the murder if Gonzales even as the rebels allegedly branded the dead official as “an active intelligence asset of the AFP and PNP.”