Three Communist guerrillas and four soldiers were killed yesterday when rebels attacked a military detachment guarding a state-run power plant south of Manila, the military said.
The attack came after Communist Party spokesman Gregorio Rosal said earlier in the week that the rebels would intensify guerrilla operations ahead of May 10 elections to help bring down President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government because of her strong ties with the US.
About 50 New People's Army guerrillas shot at air force soldiers and government militiamen guarding the 600-megawatt power plant of the National Power Corp in Calaca, Batangas province, at around 2am, armed forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lucero said.
Air force spokesman Major Restituto Padilla said three airmen were killed in the gunbattle and a fourth died later in a hospital. He said two airmen and four militiamen were also wounded, adding that 10 soldiers and 30 militiamen were manning the detachment.
He said the rebels, riding a truck, fired at least two volleys of light anti-tank rockets at the detachment, causing the government casualties.
Padilla said the bodies of three rebels were later recovered, although Rosal said he was only aware of two casualties.
The rebels fled after reinforcements arrived and were being pursued by soldiers, Lucero said.
Shortly after the incident, another group of rebels ambushed a convoy of soldiers sent to reinforce the Calaca detachment in nearby Balayan town, but there were no casualties among the troops, Padilla said.
There were also no confirmed rebel casualties in a fierce gunfight that ensued, but blood trails and abandoned rebel backpacks indicated many fighters were killed or wounded, he said.
Lucero said the rebels intended to destroy the power plant, about 80km south of Manila, and cause a widespread blackout on the main Philippine island of Luzon.