Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, 3 rd Infantry Division commander, yesterday ordered his troops to strictly follow the rule of law, and consider as “premium” the safety of civilians, while pursuing the members of lawless armed groups.
This was in the aftermath of series of encounters between Army soldiers and suspected New People's Army rebels in Negros and Panay.
On March 8, an encounter took place between the 79 th Infantry Battalion soldiers and about 15 rebels in Brgy. Bahian, Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, but no casualty was reported from both sides.
It was followed by three successive encounters between the 61 st Infantry Battalion soldiers and suspected rebels yesterday in barangays Daan Sur and Abangay, all in Tapaz, Capiz, and Brgy. Agcalaga in Calinog, Iloilo, military records show.
Citing information from civilians, Baladad said the NPA rebels were planning to attack government vital installations, in line with the 45 th founding anniversary of the New People's Army on March 29.
An M16 armalite rifle with two magazines containing ammunition, and a back pack containing personal belongings, were recovered at the encounter site in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, by 79 th IB soldiers.
Meanwhile, the series of encounters in Capiz and Iloilo led to the recovery of a damaged upper receiver part for an M16 rifle, live ammunition and empty shells of M14 and M16 rifles.
Baladad said the 3ID remains committed and vigilant in ensuring the security and safety of the people in the Western Visayas.
He also acknowledged the support of the people of Tanjay City, who provided them information on the presence of armed rebels in their community.*GPB
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