Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Evacuees return after Army, Reds clash in NegOr town

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 25, 2019): Evacuees return after Army, Reds clash in NegOr town

Recovered improvised explosive devices in the vicinity of an alleged New People's Army lair in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental. (Photo courtesy of the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office)

The last batch of families and individuals who fled from the hinterlands of Manjuyod, Negros Oriental this past weekend following a clash between government troops and alleged New People’s Army (NPA) members, have already returned home.

Lt. Col. Randy Pagunuran, battalion commander of the Philippine Army's 11th Infantry Battalion, on Tuesday said that based on reports from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Manjuyod, around 230 households evacuated on Sunday following an encounter the night before.

The evacuees stayed at barangay halls and with some relatives in Manjuyod. By Monday, they started to return to their villages in trickles, Pagunuran said.

The last 30 evacuees left early Tuesday for home, he added.

“Actually, mga alas 3 ng hapon kahapon, pinapabalik na ang mga tao kaso nag decide sila na bukas na lang ng umaga kasi gabi na daw sila darating sa kanilang mga bahay (actually, they were told around 3 p.m. yesterday to return home but they decided to wait until the following morning as it would be dark already by the time they reached their villages),” he said.

Those who evacuated were from Barangay Bantolinao and nearby villages such as Mandalupang and Lamogong, the 11th IB commander said.

Pagunuran said he told the people that there is no reason for them to evacuate as they are not the targets of the government troops who are scouring the mountains of Manjuyod and adjacent towns for NPA insurgents.

At around 11:35 p.m. on Saturday, 94th IB soldiers and personnel from the 704th Regional Mobile Force Battalion encountered more or less 20 armed men believed to be NPA members while on combat operations at Sitio Kambugtong in Barangay Bantolinao.

A firefight ensued that lasted for about one hour and 20 minutes, leaving an Army soldier and one suspected NPA dead. Two other soldiers were wounded.

The government troops afterward overran an NPA camp and retrieved anti-personnel mines (APMs) and subversive documents, as well as personal belongings.

The body of the alleged NPA member who was killed in the clash was already identified as that of Agripino/Rofino Palomar, 24, single, a resident of Sitio Panangan, in Barangay Candabong, Manjuyod.

His mother had reportedly claimed the body several hours after the encounter. According to Pagunuran, the mother said she was not aware of the activities of her late son.

The NPA, along with its political wing, the Communist Party of the Philippines, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.


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