The first encounter happened in Barangay Talalak, Sta. Catalina town last Friday.
A firefight broke out when armed men attacked the patrol base of 12 Infantry Batallion (IB) in Barangay Talalak, Sta. Catalina past 5 a.m.
Police from the Sta. Catalina Police Station rushed to the patrol base to reinforce the 12 IB soldiers.
Police said the rebels lobbed a fragmentation grenade at the camp but it didn’t explode.
The suspected rebels retreated but not after two of their members were killed. One of the fatalities was identified as Antonio Cardinas.
A day later, an encounter also took place in Barangay Bantolinao, Manjuyod town.
Killed in the firefight was Corporal Leoter Cagape of the 94th IB. Also wounded were PFC Cris Emmanuel Paja and Pvt. Debyl Reyes.
Aside from one fatality, who remained unidentified, three other members of the NPA were also arrested.
“The rebels came from the combined forces of the Leonardo Panaligan and Apolinario Gatmaytan groups,” said Brig. Gen. Ignacio Madriaga, 302nd Brigade commander.
The encounter happened after the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO 7) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-Central Command conducted a medical mission in Sitio Kambugtong.
“The place is known to be a haven of NPA rebels. That’s why early in the morning, no residents showed up in the medical mission because they wanted to make sure first that the place is secured,” said Police Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas, PRO 7 chief.
Sinas said that during the clearing operation a day before the medical mission, police found eight holes where improvised explosive devise (IED) were supposed to be planted.
“They (NPA rebels) even went house-to-house and discouraged the residents from joining the medical mission,” said Sinas.
After the outreach program, some policemen and soldiers stayed behind to secure a mini concert staged by the PRO 7.
“We expected that those who conducted house-to-house visits will return at night some forces stayed behind,” Sinas said.
It was around past 11 p.m. where government forces spotted a group of armed men some 1.6 kilometers from where the medical mission was held.
“An encounter erupted after one of soliders tripped an IED,” said Madriaga.
The firefight lasted for more than hour.
“We condemned the use of landmines because it is very indiscriminate. We recovered five landmines. They are using banned explosives out of desperation,” said Madriaga.
There were indications that several NPA rebels were wounded in the encounter, said Madriaga.