The encounter in Brgy. Tan-awan, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, that left two Army soldiers dead and eight others injured Saturday, triggered the evacuation of 236 individuals, as government forces are still pursuing the fleeing New People’s Army rebels.
Supt. Rhea Santos, Kabankalan City police chief, said yesterday that the basic needs of 51 internal displaced families that came from seven hinterland sitios of Brgy. Tan-awan, Kabankalan City, are now being attended to by the City Social Welfare and Development Office, as ordered by Mayor Isidro Zayco.
Killed in an hour-long gunbattle Saturday were Army Sgt. Sandy Arevalo and Delga PFC Vicente Marcon, while the injured were Sgt. Nino Nabaunag, PFCs Michael Besana, Voltair Catamin, Angelito Bariga, Kenneth Cerbo, Ryan Las Pinas, Joven Taghap and John Daryle Delgado.
Capt. Ruel Llanes, 303rd Infantry Brigade Civil Military Operations officer, said yesterday that the injured soldiers are now in stable condition, and are being treated at a military hospital in Jamindan, Capiz.
Llanes reported that the 62nd Infantry Battalion soldiers were conducting clearing and combat operations, when they figured in a chance engagement with about 60 NPA rebels, that led to an hour–long gunbattle.
He said communist rebels encountered by 62IB troopers were also responsible for the burning of heavy equipment and construction materials of a private firm tasked by the National Irrigation Administration to construct a dam in Sitio Badian, also Brgy. Tan-awan, Kabankalan City.
The NPA had claimed responsibility for the property destruction, with estimated damage placed by arson investigators of the Bureau of Fire and Protection at P6.8 million.
Llanes said they received reports from residents in the area that the rebels also suffered casualties. But the fleeing rebels managed to recover an M-16 rifle from one of the slain Army soldiers.
Before the two-insurgency-related incidents in Kabankalan City, suspected NPA rebels also staged an ambush in Toboso town that resulted in the death of a civilian and caused injuries to his companion, while another group of rebels also burned a cargo truck loaded with fertilizer in Moises Padilla, all in Negros Occidental.
Llanes said the burning of a cargo truck and heavy equipment was triggered by the failure of their e owners to comply with the extortion demands of the NPA.
Checkpoints have been set up by the police in strategic areas of Kabankalan City and neighboring areas to help the Philippine Army in their pursuit operations.
Santos also said that all hospitals are being checked on admission of patients with gunshot wounds.
The 24 displaced families are now temporarily being housed at the covered court of the Tan-awan barangay proper.
The communist rebels encountered by 62IB are believed to be members of the Grader Platoon of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros Central Negros Front, according to the police.*GPB
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