Two soldiers were killed and four others were injured in an encounter with New People’s Army rebels in Sitio Tiyos, Barangay Quintin Remo, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, 3:40 p.m. Wednesday, November 3.
Four rebels were also allegedly wounded or killed in the encounter between the Army’s 62nd Infantry (Unifier) Battalion, 79th Infantry (Masaligan) Battalion and 33ed Division Reconnaissance soldiers and about 25 NPA fighters, Capt. Kim Apitong, 3rd Division Public Affairs Office OIC, said Thursday, November 4.
About 800 residents living near the encounter site left their homes in fear minutes after the firefight between the state troopers and rebels, Moises Padilla Mayor Ella Garcia Yulo said.
Based on their initial records 100 families evacuated to Nacuruhan Elementary School, 29 to the Binataan Elementary School, 13 to Oway-Oway Church, and three to the Santos-Santos Center, all in Barangay Quintin Remo, she said.
The mayor said that the municipal and the provincial governments have already sent out food packs to the displaced families.
She said they were initially barred from sending assistance to the evacuation areas by the Army as pursuit operations against the fleeing rebels were ongoing at the time, but she insisted.
Yulo was still waiting for the advice of the Army when the residents can return to their homes.
The Army successfully prevented a planned attack and extortion activities of the CPP-NPA terrorist through the encounter, Apitong said.
Troops launched combat operations in response to information from concerned citizens of the presence of NPA terrorists consolidating in Sitio Tiyos, he said.
A firefight ensued for about one hour as the rebels continued to retaliate to enable their other members to withdraw, he said.
The enemy suffered major losses as they were seen dragging away at least four comrades, Apitong said.
The slain and wounded government soldiers, whose names were withheld, were immediately evacuated to the Visayas Command by Black Hawk helicopters of the Philippine Air Force.
At about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday blocking forces also encountered about seven withdrawing NPA rebels, Apitong said.
Recovered from the rebels were three backpacks, two cellphones, ammunition, four large cooking pots, various enemy belongings, and supplies, Apitong said.
Prior to the encounter, there were reports that the NPA rebels planned to attack the ongoing P317 million Hilaitan-Trinidad Farm to Market Road in Guihulngan City. The project is already 90 percent completed and is constantly being secured by the government forces, he said.
MGen. Benedict Arevalo, 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division, commander, said that the Army will not allow the CPP NPA terrorist to stage atrocities and conduct their extortion scheme in the region.
“As I direct our troops to conduct relentless military operations against these terrorists, I encourage all Negrenses to join our fight against this terrorist group by continue providing information about their plans and activities and further preventing them from casting more terror,” Arevalo added.*