TWO soldiers involved in the search and rescue operations for the missing Cessna plane in Albay were ambushed and killed by suspected members of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG).

In a statement on Monday, February 20, 2023, the 9th Infantry Division said that Privates John Paul Adalim and Mark June Esico from the 31st Infantry Battalion were buying supplies in a market in Barangay Cotmon, Camalig town around 7 a.m. when they were fired upon by five armed men.

The victims sustained several gunshot wounds in various parts of the body, causing their immediate death.

Barangay Chairman Dennise Misolania condemned the incident and assured assistance to the police in the conduct of investigation.

Major General Adonis Bajao, commander of the 9th Infantry (Spear) Division and Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB), said the CTG members were “desperate” following the series of accomplishments of the troops in the region against insurgency that led to the surrender of many of their members.

“Masyado nang desperado ang mga teroristang grupo dahil sa walang humpay na operasyon sa kabundukan ng Philippine Army na nagpapahina pa lalo sa kanilang grupo. Pagpapakita rin ito ng kanilang kaduwagan at kawalan ng respeto sa karapatang pantao sa pamamagitan ng pagkitil ng buhay kabilang na ang mga sundalong nakatalaga sanang magpaabot ng tulong at magsalba ng buhay ng ating mga kababayan,” Bajao said.

(The terrorist groups are too desperate because of the incessant operations in the mountains by the Philippine Army that has further weakened their group. It also shows their cowardice and lack of respect for human rights by taking lives, including the soldiers assigned to extend help and save the lives of our countrymen.)

On Saturday, February 18, the Cessna 340 with tail number RP-C2080 carrying four people on their way to Manila went missing in the vicinity of Camalig, Albay.

The wreckage of the plane was located near the crater of Mayon Volcano on Sunday, February 19, 2023. (SunStar Philippines)