By Rene Acosta
AN Air Force trooper was killed on Monday in a firefight with New People’s Army guerrillas in Batangas, which was supposed to have been cleared of communist rebels.
Maj. Angelo Guzman, spokesman for the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command, identified the fatality as Airman First Class (A1C) Cliff Arvin Alama, member of the 730th Combat Group of the Air Force’s 710th Special Operations Wing (SPOW).
Owing to the lack of air assets, the Air Force formed the SPOW as a ground unit tasked to fight rebels and serve as air-base perimeter security.
Before the arrival of some Air Force aircraft, Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin had branded the military’s air-service as an “all air without force.”
Guzman said Alama was killed during a firefight with 15 rebels in Barangay Toong, Tuy, Batangas, at around 7:49 p.m. on Monday.
He said Alama and 11 other members of the 730th Combat Group were on patrol when they encountered the rebels.
“A1C Alama was hit in the left shoulder and was immediately pulled out of the encounter site and then evacuated to the Medical Center-Western Batangas in Balayan, Batangas,” Guzman said.
However, Alama was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
Col. Peale John Bondoc, 710th SPOW commander, ordered pursuit operations against the rebels.
Guzman said that the regional military will continue its focused operations in order to eliminate rebels and even members of other armed group in Batangas, Cavite and Laguna.
The Armed Forces has already declared Batangas, along with Cavite and Laguna as having been cleared from the NPA three years ago.