2 troopers killed, 5 wounded by communist rebel landmine in Davao City

Army deplores use of landmines

Two troopers were killed and five others wounded when a patrolling team of Philippine Army Scout Rangers stepped on a landmine planted by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in a far-flung district in Davao City in Southern Philippines on Monday afternoon.

The troopers were aboard an Army truck which run through the landmine on a main road in Paquibato, where rebel presence is heavy.

Captain Rosa Manuel, the military spokesman, said victims in the landmine blast in sitio Banban, Barangay Lumiad were troopers from the 5th Scout Ranger Company.

The troopers were among a team that over the weekend exhumed the body of a rebel cadre Rodel Altar said to have been killed by his comrades under the NPA Pulang Bagani Command headed by Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao, according to Lt. Oscar Lactao, commander of the Army’s Task Force Davao.

The military identified the slain troopers as Private First Class (Pfc) Fidel B. Lopez III and Corporal (Cpl) John S. Coyme; and the injured as Sergeant Alberto Mabugnan, Cpl. Romulo Sumain, Cpl. Alberto Paculba, Pfc. Mark Ramirez, Pfc. Edwin Fajardo, all from the 5th Scout Ranger Company of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); and Pfc. Pidelito Panal from Task Force Davao.

The military said Paquibato is now a veritable trap, with the NPA landmines alleged to be planted in the main roads of the upland district.

Major General Reynaldo Mapagu, commander of the 10th Infantry Division running after communist rebels in the Davao Region, said “these landmines are ready for detonation once there is a target of opportunity of soldiers passing by. This will endanger the civilians or non-combatants.”

“The NPAs are heartless people. They have been doing these barbaric acts with impunity and total disregard to human lives. The use of landmine has long been banned by every civilized nation and all entities whether state or none state actors are bound to respect it as enshrined in the Ottawa Convention. The NPAs clearly do not respect the International Humanitarian Law and the International Convention on Armed Conflict,” he said.

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