By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – Major General Marion Sison, commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID), urged the 15th Infantry Battalion (IB) to continue their progress against the New People’s Army (NPA) following the death of two alleged NPA rebels in two clashes at Sitio Cambaga, Barangay Yao-Yao, Cauayan, Negros Occidental last Tuesday.
The Army has yet to release the names of the fatalities as of this writing.
“Do not give them a breathing space until they all go weary and opt to return to the folds of the law or suffer the same fate as their comrades,” Sison said in a statement.
The clashes erupted when soldiers acted on information from residents on the alleged presence of armed persons reportedly conducting extortion, recovery and recruitment efforts in the area.
Military troopers encountered around 10 alleged members of the weakened South West Front (SWF), Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor (KR-NCBS), according to Lieutenant Colonel J-jay Javines, head of Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO).
Javines said the two bodies of the slain rebels were recovered from the encounter site.
Military troopers also recovered high-powered firearms and other war materiel, including an M653 rifle, an M14 rifle, a .45 caliber pistol, an anti-personnel mine with blasting cap, magazines for the M14, various ammunition, medical paraphernalia, personal belongings, and subversive documents with high intelligence value.
Javines said that the recovered .45 caliber pistol belonged to Sergeant Jhoerom Meguillo, one of the two intelligence soldiers from the 15th IB, who was killed in an ambush reportedly carried out by the group in the same barangay on April 3, 2021.
According to the Army, the said group was also allegedly involved in an encounter with the 47th IB in Barangay Tabugon, Kabankalan City on September 21, which resulted in the deaths of six alleged NPA rebels.
Meanwhile, four members of the SWF, including an active member, also surrendered to the Army, bringing along a high-powered firearm.
Sison said that these are strong and positive indications that declaring the SWF as dismantled and, subsequently Negros Island, as insurgency-free is within reach.
For his part, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Cuarteros, 15th IB commander, underscored the trust that the local residents have in the government.
Cuarteros said the 15th IB troopers are fully dedicated to relentlessly pursue the remaining NPA members and dismantle the SWF, KR-NCBS.
“Our resolve is to ensure that they have nowhere to hide,” he added.
Earlier, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., during his visit to the 3ID headquarters in Jamindan, Capiz, stressed that he would want to return and declare personally the islands of Negros and Panay as insurgency-free.
The 3ID, in collaboration with its partners and stakeholders, is pouring all its resources and efforts in that direction, the Army said.
The NPA claimed that the recent clashes in Cauayan town was the 17th “fake encounter” of the Army.
However, the Army maintained that the firefight was a legitimate encounter, citing the recovery of dead bodies, and war materiel.
Javines said that it’s always the NPA’s counteraction to any incident, a part of their propaganda.
In his message, Barangay Captain Josue Sumanion called on the NPA rebels to surrender for peace.
Javines said that two NPA rebels have surrendered and five high-powered firearms were seized, following a clash between the alleged remnants of NPA and the 94th IB in Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City yesterday.
However, the Army has yet to provide more details about the Himamaylan encounter, as of this writing.