Rebels ‘interrupt’ village forum

Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade

By: Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City –  Officials and some residents of Lamugong village in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental were surprised and frightened after about 10 to 15 unidentified armed persons believed to be New People’s Army (NPA) members entered the barangay hall while they were in a middle of a meeting last Wednesday.

Brigadier General Benedict Arevalo, Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde) commander, said the rebels arrived at around 9 a.m. and allegedly took away some cellular phones and the village chief’s handheld radio.

Arevalo said the armed men did not introduce themselves as NPA members but they were identified by some residents as rebels.

“They (rebels) stayed in the area for more than an hour and left. The people were unharmed,” he added.

Arevalo said the village officials were discussing with their constituents about the proposed barangay Identification (ID) card system to determine the outsiders in the village as part of the preventive measures of the authorities against criminalities and insurgency.

The Army commander said the police were ready to respond when it happened but they advised them not to proceed to the area because it might be one of the NPA’s modus to stage an ambush on their way to the area.

Instead, the military troops conducted pursuit operations, he added.

Arevalo said the incident is a form of desperation on the part of the rebels after the Army and the police discovered their alleged bomb factory in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental over the weekend.

Despite what happened, Arevalo said there is no need for deployment of troops because the village is not influenced by the rebels.

The Army, however, talked to the people and proposed to set-up a system for immediate reporting of such cases.

Although the incident brought fear to the people there, the situation now in the village is normal, he said.

He said the Army should be more aggressive on the oriental side to hunt down these rebels.

They cannot penetrate the occidental side because of our huge number of troops and heightened alert status, thus they are trying to make their movement in the adjacent province, he added.

He assured the people that the Army will continue to intensify their security measures to prevent the similar incident.