By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – A soldier was killed in a clash with suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) at Sitio Taleo, Barangay Milagrosa, Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental last Thursday.
The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID) has yet to reveal the name of the slain soldier who was a personnel of the 11th Infantry Battalion (IB).
Lieutenant Colonel J-jay Javines, head of the Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO), said the 11th IB personnel were conducting a community support program (CSP) in the area when they received information about some unidentified armed men reportedly extorting food from the residents.
Javines said the military troopers encountered at least 10 NPA rebels, who were believed remnants of dismantled South East Guerilla Front of Komiteng Rehiyon Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor (KR-NCBS).
The firefight lasted for about five minutes and resulted in the recovery of two .45 caliber pistols, three magazines, 11 live ammunition, a hand grenade, and other personal belongings.
Javines said that the NPA’s presence in the area is for the purpose of trying to recover their strength.
Pursuit operation against the enemies is ongoing, according to Javines.
In a statement, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Aquino, 11th IB acting commander, said they were saddened by the death of their colleague who sacrificed his life for peace.
“Umasa po kayo na kahit kami’y nagdadalamhati, patuloy parin kaming maglilingkod para sa mga kababayan natin sa Negros Oriental,” Aquino said.
Tutulong kami para mapabuti ang inyong pamumuhay at matuldokan ang mapansamantalang gawain ng NPA, he added.
Meanwhile, Brigadier General Joey Escanillas, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade (IBde), said that their comrade offered the ultimate sacrifice to free the people from the menace of the continuing threat from the NPA.
This adversity is an opportunity that paved the way for the Army to deliver a more refined effort in defeating the enemy of the state, Escanillas said.
He assured that the 302nd IBde and its subordinate units will deliver its purpose and mission with undivided attention, effective partnerships, and full-on efforts to achieve peace and development in this region.
For his part, Major General Marion Sison, 3ID commander, said “This incident will not dampen the spirit of the military troopers, but will further serve as our motivation to aggressively pursue the remaining members of the NPA and bring them into the bar of justice or otherwise, to their grave.”