Philippine Army troops continue to pursue suspected members of the rebel New People’s Army (NPA) following two sporadic clashes early this week at Barangay Talalak in Sta. Catalina town, Negros Oriental.
Lt. Col. Harold Anthony Pascua, commander of the 79th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Siaton, Negros Oriental, disclosed that the brief encounters with at least seven suspected NPA rebels on Saturday and Sunday were an offshoot of a report from civilians in the area.
The tip received by the Army said there were armed men allegedly harassing local residents and who appeared to be trying to retrieve some rice and food stuff in a nearby sub-village, said Lt. Col. Pascua over the phone Tuesday afternoon.
Pascua said he deployed his men from the Kakha detachment immediately and at around 8:40 a.m. Saturday, while on patrol to verify the civilians’ report, they were fired upon by the small band of suspected rebels which resulted in an exchange of gunfire that lasted for about two minutes.
The following day, around noontime and during pursuit operations, the government troops once more engaged the alleged rebels in another firefight for about 10 minutes before the latter fled, said Pascua.
The armed men, led by a certain “Jimlan” are “remnants” of the NPA’s South East Front who are always on the run, according to Pascua.
There were no casualties on the government side while Pascua said they are still verifying reports of wounded or killed men on the side of the armed group.
The 79th IB commander has highlighted the fact that the populace now has have the confidence of “our local defense system”, particularly the detachments and in turn, “these detachments have now the capability and responsiveness to act on security concerns of the communities”.
declared conflict manageable and development ready as of May last year and key
Army officials are saying they are eyeing to declare the province
insurgency-free any time this year. province
of Negros Oriental