145 flee homes after clash, 2 suspected rebels nabbed

The local government unit and the military provide relief goods and assistance to 145 individuals who were evacuated, following a clash between the Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion and suspected New People’s Army (NPA) at Sitio Maitum, Barangay Old Poblacion, Escalante City, Negros Occidental Tuesday. (Army’s 3rd Infantry Division Photo)

By: Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – 145 individuals were evacuated after the clash between the military troopers and suspected New People’s Army (NPA) clashed at Sitio Maitum, Barangay Old Poblacion, Escalante City, Negros Occidental Tuesday morning.

It also resulted in the apprehension of two alleged rebels.

Captain Cenon Pancito III, chief of the Public Affairs Office of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID), said the evacuees from Sitio Maitum in the said village will be temporarily sheltered at Old Poblacion National High School.

They were provided with relief goods and other assistance from the military and the local government unit, he added.

The evacuation came after troops of the 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) encountered at least seven armed men while they were conducting combat operations at the said village around 8:13 a.m..

Soldiers were deployed to the area following reports of the rebel’s plan to allegedly sabotage the three-day peace summit in the city.

The firefight lasted for about 10 minutes. No soldiers were hurt during the clash while military reported undetermined number of casualties on the NPA side.

The clash resulted in the apprehension of two suspected NPAs identified as Jomar Agustin of Barangay Salamangca, Toboso town; and his alleged girlfriend Revely Tayab of Barangay Bago, Don Salvador Benedicto town, who were trapped inside a house.

Authorities recovered from Agustin and Tayab a .45 caliber pistol with three ammunition, and another .45 caliber pistol with five ammunition, a hammock, and a bandoleer, respectively. Both suspects were turned over to Escalante City Police Station for custody and filing of charges.

Police have identified Agustin as an alleged Special Partisan Unit (Sparu) member of the Northern Negros Front (NNF), and has a previous murder case for allegedly killing a police officer and a police asset in front of the city’s public market in 2013, a press release from the military said.