By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – Another suspected member of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed in a clash with government forces at Sitio Sug-ong, Barangay Milagrosa, Sta Catalina, Negros Oriental yesterday.
Troops of the Army’s 11th Infantry Battalion (IB) engaged in a firefight with nine alleged remnants of the dismantled South East Front, Komiteng Rehiyon – Negros Cebu Bohol Siquijor (KR-NCBS) operating in the province around 6 a.m., following information about the alleged presence of the group in the area.
The fatality has yet to be identified by the authorities, as of this writing.
Recovered from the encounter site were assorted war materials including an M16 Rifle, three AK47 magazines, an M203 ammunition, and nine backpacks containing some personal belongings.
The captured weapons and other war materiel represent a significant blow to the capability of the NPA in Negros Island, further ensuring the security of the local community, according to the Army.
In a statement, Brigadier General Joey Escanillas, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade (IBde), said the success of this operation is a testament to the skill and bravery of the forces, as he commended them for their professionalism and dedication.
We remain vigilant and resolute in our mission to protect the community from any potential harm, Escanillas said. He also said that they would continue their operations in pursuit of peace and to pave the way for the development of the area.
He urged the residents to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to local authorities, reinforcing the importance of community cooperation in maintaining peace and order.
Major General Marion Sison, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division (ID), said the prompt response and successful prevention of the NPA’s extortion attempts owe much to the local populace’s vigilance in providing timely information.
“Let us continue to work together to achieve our long-desired NPA-free Negros Island,” Sison said in a statement.
This clash came a day after the 62nd IB also figured in an encounter with suspected NPA rebels in Barangay Sag-ang, La Castellana, Negros Occidental last Wednesday, which resulted in the death of two suspected NPA rebels.
Captain Jessie Ebalan, acting civil military operations officer of 303rd IBde, said that 10 families or 50 individuals have been affected by the La Castellana encounter.
Ebalan said that these families had already been given a go signal to return to their respective homes yesterday.
The local government of La Castellana is taking the lead through the Office of the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) in coordination with the 62nd IB in managing the affected families of Wednesday’s incident, Ebalan said.
Meanwhile, the NPA’s Apolinario Gatmaitan Command-Negros Island Regional Operational Command slammed the Army for the two encounters in the towns of Calatrava and La Castellana this week.
Ka Maoche Legislador, spokesperson of the group, said the two clashes in the past days were “fake.”
Legislador said that units of the Roselyn Jean Pelle Command-NPA Northern Negros Guerrilla Front are all intact and performing their revolutionary tasks with renewed fervor among farmers and farm workers.
The supposed camp raided by 79th IB soldiers in Calatrava town was staged, Legislador said.
The group also said that the two casualties in the La Castellana clash were not members of the NPA.
“As a matter of fact, there was no encounter between the 62nd IB and the NPA that day,” Legislador said.
The AFP’s bases for declaring ‘dismantled’ guerrilla fronts in Negros Island is farther from the truth. The people of Negros Island know that, the group said.
For the Army, these statements of the NPA are just part of their propaganda against the government’s efforts for peace and development.