Encounters trigger suspension of classes in Toboso, Escalante

The seized belongings of the rebels in the Escalante encounters.*79IB photo

The Escalante City and Toboso mayors in northern Negros Occidental on Thursday, February 22, ordered the suspension of classes amid the ongoing armed clashes between the Army and rebel forces.

Mayor Melecio Yap suspended classes at elementary, junior and senior high schools in barangays Libertad, Pinapugasan, Binaguiohan, Paitan, Dian.-ay, Magsaysay, Malasibog and Tamlang effective Friday, until further notice.

Mayor Madonnah Jaojoco also issued an executive order suspending classes at all levels in Toboso starting Friday until further notice.

There is a need to ensure the safety of the students as well school personnel amid the ongoing encounters, she said.

Four government soldiers, including a CAFGU Active Auxiliary member, were injured in a series of encounters in Sitio Mansulao, Barangay Pinapugasan in Escalante City, on Wednesday, which left three Communist rebels dead.

The four are now in stable condition, Lt. Col. J Jay Javines, spokesperson of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said on Thursday.

Two former child warriors were among the three rebels slain, a 79IB statement said Thursday.

Among the casualties were alias Jandy, Michael, and Jose, remnants of the dismantled New People’s Army (NPA) Northern Negros Front, it said.

Jandy and Michael were both minors when they were recruited by the NPA, the statement added.

Jandy was captured during an encounter in San Carlos City in 2018 but was later released because she was still a minor, the 79IB statement said.

In 2021, Jandy abandoned her 2-month-old baby in a small hut in Sitio Ambulong, Barangay San Fernando, Talisay City, as she evaded the troops of the Army’s 79IB following a clash, it added.

The baby was rescued and turned over to Talisay City Social Welfare Office.

Meanwhile, the NPA in a statement Thursday claimed that the 79IB dropped bombs on a portion of Trangkal Range in Sitio Mansulao, Barangay Pinapugasan.

The Roselyn Jean Pelle Command – Northern Negros Guerrilla Front of the NPA condemns the grossly inhuman bombing and denounces the Philippine Army for using its fake encounter script to again whitewash its crimes. No firefight took place between the two armed groups, it claimed.*

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