Another Escalante battle triggers suspension of classes, evacuation

The evacuees in Toboso Tuesday night.*Photo courtesy of Councilor Richard Jaojoco

Troops of the 79th Infantry “Masaligan” Battalion again encountered remnants of the New People’s Army’s “dismantled” North Negros Front (NNF) in Barangay Pinapugasan, Escalante City, Negros Occidental, and seized six high powered firearms Tuesday morning, February 27.

Escalante Mayor Melecio Yap suspended elementary, junior and senior high school classes in barangays Libertad, Pinapugasan, Binaguiohan, Paitan, Dian.-ay, Magsaysay, Malasibog and Tamlang immediately after the resumption of the armed confrontations.

Councilor Richard Jaojoco said 16 families with 62 members evacuated to the San Isidro Elementary School in Toboso Tuesday night and more were arriving.

Lt. Col. J-Jay Javines, 3rd Infantry Division spokesman, said there were no casualties in Tuesday’s encounter but six high powered weapons were recovered from the encounter site.

Seized were three Carbine rifles, two Garand rifles and an M-14 rifle, four rifle grenades and ammunition, Javines said.

That brought to 16 high powered firearms, four short firearms, an anti- personnel mine, eight rifle grenades, a hand grenade and improvised explosive device paraphernalia recovered by the 79th IB in its series of encounters with the NPA in the hinterlands of Escalante and Toboso since last week, Javines said.

Three NPA rebels were killed in the Escalante encounters last week.

“Our commitment will persists until we establish enduring internal peace and security for all Negrenses. We can attain this shared goal by eradicating the remaining traces of the CTG (communist terrorist group) in Negros Island through decisive and relentless military operations, complemented by a whole-of-nation approach and collaboration among various sectors and the people of Negros,” MGen. Marion Sison, 3ID commander, said.

”These actions ensure that the CTG can no longer have the capacity to sow violence and terror. With Negrenses working alongside the government, we are optimistic that achieving a state of stable internal peace and security in Negros Island is within our grasp,” he added.

Sison renewed his call to the remnants of the NPA to return to the folds of the government peacefully.

“It is better for you to surrender now before you suffer the same fate as other NPAs in previous encounters,” Sison said.*

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