NPA blasts 8th ID with breakthrough offensive in Western Samar

Karlos Manuel
Efren Martirez Command - NPA-Eastern Visayas
November 17, 2011

In the spirit of the Party’s call in the region this March 2011 to overcome the obstacles to the launching of tactical offensives, comrades in the Efren Martires Command and the Arnulfo Ortiz Command of Western Samar persevered in their coordinated military planning. Last July 13 and 20, the 8th Infantry Division was stunned by the coordinated attacks of the New People’s Army on the subprovincial jail in Catbalogan and a convoy of the 34th IB in Paranas. The raid on the jail succeeded in obtaining weapons and equipment, and also served to divert enemy attention from the bigger plan of the ambush. The ambush was both the first in the region to be done at night and against the most number of military vehicles as well.

Raid on the subprovincial jail

The NPA intelligence had already cased the subprovincial jail in Brgy. Lagundi, Catbalogan as early as April. While the guards from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology were lightly armed, the target was still regarded as somewhat difficult because it was surrounded by villages with military presence and it was also close to the national highway. Nevertheless, by the second week of July it was resolved and decided that the villages with soldiers could be avoided in the retreat. The plan was also ordered to be immediately carried out to confuse the enemy and conceal the planned ambush in Paranas because the latter target had already been fixed that month.

A squad of the Arnulfo Ortiz Command quickly set out to carry out the mission. At 9 p.m. Of July 13, an NPA team attacked the subprovincial jail while another team took the position as the blocking force in the route of expected enemy reinforcements. The four BJMP guards guarding 28 prisoners immediately surrendered without any resistance. Confiscated from them were a 9 mm. pistol, a .38 pistol, and a .38 revolver, as well as two laptop computers, a printer, and other military and office equipment.

The tactical offensive lasted 20 minutes without incident, except when the Red fighters accidentally fired and lightly wounded a BJMP guard. The Red fighters were able to retreat quickly and safely. Surprised and probably fearing attacks on its forces near the NPA’s latest target, the 8th ID withdrew the soldiers operating in the nearby villages. Unknown to the 8th ID, it had fallen for a deception that served as an additional victory to the raid on the subprovincial jail and that set the stage for the bigger offensive: an ambush on the troops of the notorious 34th IB.

The night ambush on the 34th IB

For some time, the NPA had observed a change in the pattern of movement of the 8th ID in San Jose de Buan and nearby towns. Military vehicles never traveled during daytime but only at night. The NPA believed this was to avoid being hit by tactical because the NPA had never done a nighttime ambush. But this changed after the NPA’s tactical offensive in Brgy. Concepcion, Paranas last July 20.

During that month, the 34th IB and 87th IB were exchanging positions. The 34th IB was leaving its area of responsibility and its headquarters at the town center of San Jose de Buan and the 87th IB was taking over. The NPA intelligence had determined the nightly movement of military vehicles since the start of the month. A nighttime ambush plan was drawn up by the Efren Martires Command and the Arnulfo Ortiz Command.
The comrades carefully studied the terrain and the enemy movement. The decision to carry out the ambush at night was firmed up because the enemy would not expect it. The necessary ordnance was prepared, including 11 anti-tank and six anti-personnel command-detonated explosives. These were planted in the 200-meter kill zone, along the route to be taken by the convoy about six kilometers from San Jode de Buan, between Brgy. Canligis and the bridge towards Brgy. Concepcion, Paranas.

By nighttime of July 19 the NPA was already positioned for ambush, it was a moonlit night, and a convoy did appear, heading towards San Jose de Buan. But the ambush was called off because there were many vehicles to attack and the bombs were not all yet in place. The following night, July 20, the NPA was once again positioned for ambush and everything was ready. The intelligence monitoring passed the word that a convoy was indeed passing after exiting San Jose de Buan.
At past 10 p.m., the intense darkness was split by the approaching lights of the convoy, led by three motorcycles and followed by two 6×6 trucks and three owner-type jeeps. Upon the detonation of the explosives on the order by the NPA command, two 6×6 trucks and two owner-type jeeps were instantly hit. The force of the explosions overturned the military vehicles and a 6×6 truck was thrown into the nearby river. But the three motorcycles and a jeep were able to flee the kill zone, speeding away without a glance and abandoning the others (these survivors merely fired their guns in the air in futility upon reaching Brgy. Concepcion).

After the explosions, the NPA assault squad immediately opened fired and maneuvered. There was no answering fire, no sound but the groans of the wounded from the enemy side. Meanwhile, the NPA squad assigned to confiscate the guns and other materiel from the enemy was also on the move. Here the comrades found it difficult because of the intense darkness in the moonless night (the moon was bright during the earlier target date). Nevertheless, the NPA was able to confiscate the enemy’s weapons and other equipment, withdrawing safely after half an hour.

The NPA gathered information at least 17 were killed and six wounded among the troops of the Bravo Coy of the 34th IB (the 8th ID only admitted a single casualty killed). The peasants reported to the NPA that aside from three bodies taken by the military from the ambush site, nine more bodies were taken to Brgy. Canligis and five to Brgy. Concepcion.

The NPA also confiscated a K3 machine gun, two M16 rifles and a .45 pistol. Many rounds of ammunition were also taken: 526 M16 bullets, 1,950 M14 bullets, 400 K3 machine gun rounds and a box of mortar rounds. Other military equipment and documents were also taken.

The ambush in Brgy. Concepcion, Paranas served as a big breakthrough. The complacency of the 8th ID was shaken and the NPA proved that it could use the night to its advantage and render the enemy vulnerable. The 34th IB was also punished due to its notoriety and impunity for human rights violations in Western Samar. Weapons and other military equipment were seized to serve in advancing the war. The enemy suffered heavy casualties and its plan to redeploy its forces was disturbed. The correct use of explosives against the enemy was also proven. The comrades and the masses rejoiced at this victory in the armed strrugle and look forward to further intensifying tactical offensives in the whole region. #