Two suspected members of the New People’s Army were killed, and one was wounded in an encounter with troopers of the 79th Infantry (Masaligan) Battalion of the Philippine Army in Sitio Makasakasa, Barangay Balayong in Pamplona town, Negros Oriental, at around 7:30 a.m. yesterday.
The 79th IB identified the fatalities only as “Ka Andoy” and “Ka Jury”, and the seriously wounded as Jessie Dacaldacal, squad leader of the NPAs operating in Sta. Catalina and the boundaries of Pamplona, Negros Oriental.
Their two other companions were able to evade arrest, but are believed to be wounded due to the presence of bloodstains in the encounter site, the military also said.
Brigadier General Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, said the encounter was the result of reports from civilians and residents about the presence of armed men asking for food and supplies in the sitio.
A section of the Charlie Company of the 79th IB, headed by 2Lt John Tumamao, was sent to the area to negotiate for the surrender of five armed men who were reportedly inside the house of Felix Rabor.
Instead, the NPA combatants fired at the soldiers, who returned fire.
Recovered at the encounter site were four armalite rifles with grenade launchers, and one armalite rifle with an attached M203 tube, subversive documents with high intelligence value, and personal belongings, the military said.
Scene of the crime operatives were dispatched to the area after the encounter. Commission on Human Rights field officer Jess Cañete was also present to investigate and to determine if laws of engagements were followed during the firefight.
Dacaldacal was brought to the provincial hospital by a military ambulance on orders of Patrimonio, who also coordinated with the Pamplona government for assistance in providing decent burial for the two slain rebels.
Patrimonio said he considers the capture of Dacaldacal and the deaths of two others a big blow to the NPA. It will cause demoralization, he added, and urged other rebels to surrender as the government is willing to extend livelihood and cash assistance for them to start their new lives decently and peacefully.
Lt. Col Harold Pascua, commander of the 79th IB, meanwhile denied reports that four of his soldiers were killed during the encounter.
He added that a pursuit operation was ongoing to capture the two other wounded rebels.
The result of the latest encounter helped boost the recommendation of Patrimonio to declare Negros Oriental as "conflict manageable and development ready" province by April 25, he said.
Patrimonio added that recent encounters in Bahian, Tanjay City and in Balayong Pamplona are indications that the NPAs are on the run, and that the Army has permanently occupied their guerilla base in Sta. Catalina.
They (rebels) were forced to go out to other areas where they have no hold to establish their mass base. But unfortunately for them, their presence was reported by residents because the area is not their comfort zone, he added.*JG
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