Dumaguete City—A Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) rebel was killed during clashes with the 62nd Infantry Battalion (62IB) of the Philippine Army at the height of disaster response operations following the onslaught of Tropical Storm Paeng in
Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental on Saturday.
Lt. Col. William Pesase, 62IB commanding officer, said on Sunday his troops were engaged in humanitarian efforts and assisting evacuees when a civilian informed them of armed men conducting extortion activities in Barangay Planas.
Acting on the information, Pesase said his troops proceeded to the area and were fired upon by more or less 20 members of the NPA’s Central Negros 1 of the Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor (KR-NCBS) in Sitio Mambog.
The first armed encounter took place around 3:30 p.m. and lasted for about 30 minutes. The rebels fled with the soldiers pursuing them despite the bad weather, Pesase said.
At around 9 p.m.,62IB troops again clashed with the same group of rebels in Sitio Ilihan in the nearby village of Buenavista.
The firefight lasted for about five minutes before the rebels fled, with some believed to be wounded based on bloodstains found at the encounter site.
The Army troops recovered a body of an unidentified rebel, a 12 gauge shotgun; a .45 caliber pistol; a hand grenade; two Baofeng Radios; two backpacks with personal belongings; and subversive documents.
Pesase decried the NPA’s extortion efforts, saying the Army will not allow the rebel group to disrupt ongoing relief efforts to ensure the safety and security of the civilians who were affected by the storm.
“The worst part is that even before the storm Paeng hit Guihulngan, scores of residents were already evacuated due to the overflowing of a river in the city proper on Wednesday, days before the expected onslaught here,” he said.
“I also would like to emphasize and thank the people for their continued support to us in fighting the insurgency, which is a great contribution to our accomplishments in keeping the peace,” he added.
The Army commander also reassured them of providing support to Guihulngan town to “secure their constituents in times of calamities”.
Pesase reiterated his call to the remaining NPA members to surrender, lay down their arms and return to the fold of the law.
Those who will surrender will also receive government benefits through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program and other livelihood programs through the local Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, he added.