Four soldiers and a civilian were killed as alleged New People’s Army (NPA) members attacked a village in Labo, Camarines Norte, on Sunday.

Major Angelo Guzman, Army 9th Infantry Division spokesman, identified the fatalities as Cpl. Amado Perillo, Pfc. Paulo Orticio, Pfc. Teodoro Ojeda, Pfc. Sonecio Potian, all of the 49th Infantry Battalion; and civilian Francisco Ruales, 49.

Another soldier, Pfc. Leland Besada, suffered a bullet wound to the neck and was brought to the Camarines Norte Provincial Hospital in Daet along with civilian Marlo Matibang, who was also injured, Guzman said in a statement Sunday night.

The incident occurred around 12:30 p.m. in Brgy. Maot.

Ten soldiers, led by 1Lt. Eric Estrevillo, were conducting “community work” near the barangay hall when they came under a “heavy volume of fire” from more than 20 rebels, Guzman said.

“They were conducting house-to-house dialogues and coordination regading their future activities in the barangay,” he said.

The soldiers, who were divided in three groups, engaged the rebels in a 40-minute firefight but four did not make it out alive, Guzman said.

The rebels, meanwhile, were able to take six M16 rifles, a K3 sub-machinegun, and a caliber-.45 pistol from the soldiers.

Colonel Richard Lagrana, commander of the 902nd Brigade, directed the 49th IB to conduct “sustained” operations to track down the attackers and ordered other troops to join the hunt, Guzman said.

Major Gen. Josue Gaverza Jr., commander of the 9th ID, said they will file charges of human rights violations against the rebels.

“Three of our soldiers, who were already incapacitated by gunshot wounds, were shot to death at close range by the rebels,” he said.

Gaverza, however, also ordered the creation of a board of inquiry to determine if troops committed “lapses.” (John Roson)

– end –