ILOILO City – The nine improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that the Philippine Army recovered in Barangay Mulangan, Igbaras, Iloilo early Sunday morning were designed to inflict considerable damage, according to the 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB).
“Talagang damaging ang na-recover. Kayang paliparin ang truck natin ng ilang feet kasi malakas,” said Lieutenant Colonel Sisenando Magbalot Jr., the battalion’s commander.
The IEDs – each weighing 10 kilos – were recovered from the house of the Elamparo family after 61IB troops repelled a group of 1- armed rebels gathered inside.
Three Elamparo family members who were arrested told the Army they were recruited by two rebels tasked with making IEDs.
The three were Ramon Elamparo alias Toto, 48; Roberto Elbao alias Nono, 50; and Ruperto Elamparo alias Bebot, 50.
They identified their recruiters as Joven “Ka Lex” Ceralvo and Reymar “Ka Bambi” Camariose of the Suyak Platoon, Southern Front Committee.
According to the Elamparos, the rebels originally left them with 12 IEDs in December last year but three were subsequently taken out and “planted” somewhere in the 1st District.
Magbalot believed the rebels intended to use the IEDs against government troops this March 29 when the New People’s Army (NPA) marks its 50th anniversary.
“We are thankful to the community that informed us about the presence of the armed group in Barangay Mulangan,” said Magbalot.
He also said the Elamparos would be charged with illegal possession of explosives.
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“We received a report from the community about a group of 10 armed men in the house of the Elamparo family,” said Magbalot.
The rebels fired at the responding 61IB troops so the soldiers fired back.
The firefight lasted for some five minutes. The rebels withdrew to the mountains, said Magbalot.
“None of our soldiers were hurt,” he added./PN