Two suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas were reportedly killed, while six other rebels were allegedly wounded in three encounters in Toboso and Sagay City last Saturday and Sunday.
This was disclosed yesterday by Major Ray Tiongson, head of the Public Affairs Division of the 3rd Infantry Division, who also said in a statement that they based their reports on fatalities and injured rebels from the statements of civilians who witnessed the encounter, as well as the personal accounts of government troops who saw bloodstains in the general direction of the rebels.
The encounters happened on Saturday at 4:45 a.m., a few hours after at 7:30 a.m., and on Sunday at 5:30 p.m., 1Lt Jimrhic Obias, civil-military operations officer of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, said.
In the Saturday’s encounter, the government troops captured two suspected rebels, namely Rene Villarin and Richard Gallego, who were left behind by their comrades while fleeing, Obias said.
In Sunday’s encounter, government troops recovered four more high powered firearms after another five-minute encounter with the fleeing rebels.
The troops were conducting follow-up security operations at Sitio Dahlia Brgy. Puey in Sagay when they encountered the rebels.
The encounter yielded three M-14 and an AK-47 rifles, 114 rounds of ammunition for M-14 rifle, 32 rounds of ammunition for AK-47 and a backpack with personal items, Obias reported.
All in all, the government troops recovered a total of nine firearms.
"The rebels scampered in different directions leaving behind their firearms. They did not expect to be traced in their encampment but civilians gave away their position," Lt. Col. Efren Morados of 62nd IB said.
Morados, who led the security operations, said the rebels panicked and left their firearms and belongings in sugarcane plantations and abandoned huts.
Civilians who saw the rebels running away from the encounter site gave away the location of the firearms to responding government troopers, Obias said.
No one was injured from the government troops, which is composed of members of the 62nd Infantry Battalion of the Army and the 6th Special Action Battalion of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
ENCOUNTERSOn early morning of Saturday, the troops were conducting peace and security patrol in Sitio Magtuod Brgy. Bug-ang in Toboso and Sitio Dahlia Brgy. Puey in Sagay City when about 17 NPA rebels allegedly opened fire at them, Obias said.
The second encounter happened at 7:15 a.m. also of Saturday while the troops were in pursuit of the fleeing rebels, Obias added The second firefight lasted 10 minutes, afterwards the rebels withdrew towards Sitio Vergara and Sitio Magtuod of Brgy. Bug-ang in Toboso, leaving behind their two comrades, he said.
The two captured NPA members, while having no injury, were treated humanely and apprised of their constitutional rights, he added.
They were immediately brought to Brgy. Bato Clinic in Sagay City for medical check-up, Obias said.
They are now under the custody of the Toboso police station, awaiting filing of appropriate charges, among them is the illegal possession of firearms, Obias said.
Col Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said the rebels were stung by the incident.
"We have reports that they (NPA) are blaming each other for the encounter. They are in disarray and their morale is really low. Apparently, their commanders have become complacent and ineffective hence they were located by government troopers," he said.
Aying also disclosed that several days before the encounter, the unit’s hotline received anonymous text messages reporting the presence of the armed group in various areas.
"Di na nila kaya ang extortion. Wala na silang maibigay sa grupo. Nagsawa na rin sila kakabigay. (They cannot afford the extortion anymore. They have nothing to give to the group. They are fed- up giving to the rebels)," he added, apparently referring to civilians.
"We call on the rebels to talk peace with us. We will help those who will peacefully turn themselves in to the government," Aying added.