Red fighters under the Benito Tesorio Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) seized eight high-powered firearms in an ambush on soldiers of the US-Aquino regime in a remote area of Barangay Mabbayad, Echague town, Isabela in the early morning of November 17. The NPA confiscated three machine guns, four M16s and a K3 submachine gun.
According to initial reports, the ambush against forces of the 5th ID 502nd Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) began at around 5 a.m. Seven soldiers were killed on the spot, including 2Lt. Jimnah Torrepalma, Sgt. Eduardo Arguero and Cpl. Jondy Lar Ebersole. Eight were wounded.
The 5th ID command admitted that the ambush was the worst defeat suffered by the military in Northern Luzon since the NPA waylaid a platoon under the 85th IB conducting patrols in Tinoc, Ifugao in April. Eleven soldiers were killed in this ambush.
Aside from the victorious ambuscade in Isabela, the NPA was able to launch successful offensives in Bukidnon, Davao City and Rizal in the first half of November.
An NPA platoon was able to confiscate four firearms in a raid on the house of notorious criminal and active AFP asset Conrado Zulita in Sitio Kibalaog, Barangay Lilingayon, Valencia City in Bukidnon on November 15. Zulita was killed when he resisted.
The Red fighters seized a Garand, a carbine, a .45 cal pistol and a .38 cal revolver from Zulita aside from three rifle grenades, ammunition and magazines.
In Rizal, two soldiers from a composite force composed of 16th and 59th IB troops were killed and four were wounded when they were ambushed by Red fighters from the Narciso Antazo Aramil Command (NPA-Rizal) on November 7 in Sitio Uron, Barangay Puray, Rodriguez. Stung by their defeat, the angry soldiers vented their ire on the locals after the ambush and illegally arrested six civilians, including a teacher. (See related article on p. 6)
In Davao City, two 72nd IB troopers and six paramilitaries from the Alamara and Blackfighter groups were wounded when the 1st Pulang Bagani Company detonated an explosive on November 7 in Km. 24, Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District. The ambush formed part of the NPA’s punitive operations against the AFP for the latter’s exploitation and abuse of Manobo tribespeople from Paquibato to sow terror among the Lumad masses.
Earlier, on November 4, the 1st PBC clashed with the 69th IB Special Operations Team at an NPA checkpoint in Purok 5, Barko-Barko, Barangay Mapula. Five soldiers were killed while an NPA guerrilla was wounded. The NPA seized three cal .45 pistols from the soldiers.