By: Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – A 13-year-old boy was arrested after military troops clashed with suspected New Peoples Army (NPA) at Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental around 8:20 a.m. Saturday.
Brigadier General Benedict Arevalo, commander of Armys 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde), said troops from the 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) encountered about 30 armed men reportedly hiding in their temporary camp while conducting combat and security patrol in the area.
The soldiers received reports from concerned citizens about the alleged presence of armed group who were allegedly harassing and extorting money from the farmers in the area.
When they responded to the said report, the military engaged the suspected NPAs in a 15-minute gun battle.
The troops were conducting security patrol to prevent any atrocities while the election is approaching.
No casualty was reported on the government side but five persons were reportedly wounded on the rebel side, Arevalo claimed.
The military recovered from the encounter site seven backpacks with personal belongings, subversive documents, and an improvised explosive device (IED).
Meanwhile, the minor was arrested after being sighted in the area where the clash happened.
He was left behind by his comrades at the clash site, according to Lieutenant Colonel Egberto Dacoscos, commander of the 62nd IB.
The minor was identified as among the rebels in the clash, he added.
He will be brought to the police station for investigation and verification of his identity. Then he will be turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for proper custody.
Arevalo said the minor is now with his family since he cannot undergo a paraffin test and is not liable for any offense because of his age.
In a press statement, Dacoscos said they appreciated the bravery of their civilian partner stakeholders who reported the presence of the abusive terrorists.
You did right, you should not be afraid of this group, the army and police are always ready to help you against these terrorists, we need to drive them out so that we can have progress in our community, he said.
He again urged everyone to be vigilant and to help the authorities address the insurgency problem in the province by giving information on the whereabouts of the NPAs.
Dacoscos also commended the troops for their perseverance and alertness in facing the enemies.
We will continue our pursuit operations to stop the malady of the NPA in our upcoming elections, he said.
In January, personnel of the 62nd IB also seized an NPA hideout in the said village.
On April 9, troops also encountered suspected rebels in the said village, which led to the recovery of IED paraphernalia, several ammunition of .38 caliber and M6O, and other subversive documents with high intelligence value.
The 303rd IBde has recorded nine encounters, including the recent incident in Himamaylan City, since the start of the election period on January 13 this year.