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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, September 11, 2017
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RPA commander killed,
SAF commando injured

A district commander of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade died in an ambush in Kabankalan City, while a Special Action Force commando of the Philippine National Police was injured in an encounter with suspected New People's Army rebels in Candoni, Negros Occidental, on Saturday.

JovanieBanista, District 6 commander of the RPA-ABB, was on his way home from Barangay Bantayan. toBrgy. Locotan in Kabankalan City, on board a motorcycle, when he was ambushed by about 12 suspected NPA rebels, Supt. Rhea Santos, city police chief, said yesterday.

Banista, 50, also known as Ka Amor and Ka Elmer among his colleagues, succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds and died on the spot, Santos, who is the Kabankalan City police chief, said.

Empty shells of AK 47 and M-16 assault rifles were recovered at the ambush site, Santos said.

The ambush on Banista was the second that suspected NPA rebels have conducted. On Aug. 31, 2014 Banista survived the ambush staged by his former comrades inPurokCubay, Brgy. Locotan, also in Kabankalan City, police records showed.

Two months ago, RPA-ABB leader Charlie BoliBoli was also waylaid and shot dead in Brgy. Bago, Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental,by nine NPA rebels, who later claimed responsibility for his death.

The RPA-ABB, with about 700 members in Negros, Panay and some areas of Mindanao, entered into peace talks with the government in year 2000. The closure agreement has yet to be signed by the government, however.

The ambush of Banista also took place as Police Inspector Jose Buscato was injured in an encounter with 30 NPA rebels on the same day in SitioTigmaya, Brgy. Gatuslao, Candoni, Negros Occidental.

Buscato, a Special Action Force commando of the PNP, is now in a stable condition, Capt. RuelLlanes, 303rd Infantry Brigade spokesman, said.

Lllanes said the firefight lasted for about 30 minutes, and the rebels scampered in separate directions, leaving behind fresh bloodstains along their withdrawal routes.

Two M-16 rifles were recovered at the encounter site by the pursuing SAF troopers, who are now being assisted by the Philippine Army in the conduct of pursuit operations against the fleeing communist rebels.

Llanes said the encounter took place as government troopers responded to reports on the presence of armed rebels.

Members of the rescue unit ofthe Sipalay City government fetched the injured SAF commando fromSitioCambugi-ot, Brgy. Manlocahoc, Sipalay City, which is near the highway.

Before the encounter, there were reports that the Candoni Police Station will be attacked by the NPA.

Llanes said there is a possibility that the 30 rebels encountered by SAF commandos may also have been the ones planning an attack at the Candoni Police Station, reported last month.

This prompted the Philippine Army and National Police to launch combat operations all over Negros Island, alsofollowing the ambush-slay of six policemen and a civilian in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental on July 21. * GPB



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