By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID) claimed the deaths of six alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in a clash with government forces at Sitio Lubi, Barangay Tabugon, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental on Thursday night.
The Army identified five of the six fatalities as Alejo Delos Reyes, with aliases “Peter/Bravo,” squad leader of Squad 2 of Sangay Yunit Propaganda (SYP) Platoon 3, his wife Melissa Dela Pena, alias “Diane,” Marjon Alvior alias “Kenneth,” vice squad leader of Squad 2, SYP Platoon 3; Bobby Pedro, alias “Recoy,” vice squad leader of Squad 3 in the same platoon, and Mario Fajardo Mullon, with aliases “Reco/Goring”, medic of Squad 1 from the same platoon, while the other fatality remains unidentified.
The 10-minute encounter occurred when personnel of the 47th Infantry Battalion (IB) responded to a tip from residents about the alleged presence of armed persons believed to be members of the SYP Platoon, South West Front (SWF), Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor (KR-NCBS), reportedly extorting and collecting food from the people in the area.
Military troopers recovered from the encounter site four .45-caliber pistols, a .38-caliber revolver, a hand grenade, various magazines and ammunition, electronic gadgets, personal belongings, and several subversive documents of high intelligence value.
The clash came two weeks after the successive encounters of the 47th IB in Bohol, where six NPA rebels were also killed early this month.
According to the 3ID, the group of Delos Reyes was identified as the alleged responsible for the ambush-slay of two personnel of the 15th IB in Cauayan town in April 2021 and another attack that killed two intelligence soldiers of the 47th IB in Sipalay City in November 2022.
The Army also tagged the same group to the death of 65-year-old Silas Granada, of Barangay Pinggot in Ilog town in January this year, which was earlier claimed by the Armando Sumayang Jr. Command of NPA, SWF, saying that the victim was an alleged intelligence officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The group of Delos Reyes was also tagged in the killing of Granada’s father over a land dispute, according to the Army.
Major General Marion Sison, 3ID commander, said that “this incident is not only a big blow to the NPA, and brings them closer to becoming inconsequential, but most importantly, this is justice being served to the victims of their willful killings.”
Sison lauded the 47th IB troopers for their relentless effort to hunt the remaining NPA rebels operating in Negros Island.
Meanwhile, earlier that day, the local government, former NPA cadre leaders and members, government forces, and other stakeholders and organizations launched the Sentrong Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan Para sa Bayan (SAMBAYANAN) – Negros.
Hundreds of Negrenses joined the walk for peace dubbed “Tikang para sa Paghiliusa, Kalinong kag Pag Uswag,” in support of socio-political stability in pursuit of the attainment of just, genuine, and lasting peace.
The “SAMBAYANAN” was established by former rebel cadres headed by Mr. Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz, who returned to the folds of the law. It aims to encourage, support and enhance the pro-people, pro-community, and transformative partnership initiative for peace, development, and nation-building among the different sectors.
The launching of “SAMBAYANAN Negros” is a pivotal moment in Negros Island, where the marginalized and vulnerable sectors desperately need a collective voice and action to address their concerns, especially against armed insurgency, according to the Army.