Philippines army officer slain in clash with rebels

PHOTO: Reuters

LUCENA CITY - A Philippine Army officer was killed in a clash with New People's Army rebels in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, on Sunday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) reported Monday.

Maj. Angelo Guzman, spokesperson of the Solcom based at Camp Nakar here, identified the officer as Lt. Mike Nollora, commander of Company B of the Philippine Army's 4th Infantry Battalion based in Occidental Mindoro.

Nollora, 31, belonged to the Philippine Military Academy Class 2009, according to Lt. Col. Randolf Cabangbang, spokesperson of the Army's 2nd Infantry Division.

The slain officer hailed from Panabo City, Davao del Norte, was married with two young children, he said.

Guzman said Nollora was leading his men on security patrol when they encountered a group of rebels.

Guzman said Nollora suffered bullet wounds in his left thigh, which hit a major artery and caused massive blood loss. The 18 other soldiers engaged in a firefight that lasted five minutes with about 10 rebels at around 9:30 a.m. in the remote village of Batasan in San Jose town.

Given first aid

Nollora was given first aid but died one and half hours later.

His body was airlifted to Army general headquarters in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City and was later brought to the mortuary of the Libingan ng mga Bayani where he was accorded military honors, said Cabangbang.

"It is saddening that we lost a young commander and good officer while serving and protecting the people of Occidental Mindoro," Solcom commander Lt. General Ricardo Visaya said in a statement.

Visaya vowed to continue staging military operations in Occidental Mindoro to bring peace to the island.

It was on Oct. 8 when the other half of Mindoro island, the province of Oriental Mindoro, was declared by the military and local officials as "Conflict Manageable and Ready for Further Development" (CMRFD) due to the dwindling number of communist rebels operating in the area.

Guzman said then there were only 36 armed guerillas left operating, mostly in Occidental Mindoro, due to continuous police and military operations.