BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Two Army soldiers died on Black Saturday in an ambush staged by suspected New People’s Army rebels in Sitio Cambaga, Brgy. Yaoyao, Cauayan, Negros Occidental, a day after police troopers also rescued an injured communist rebel, following an encounter in Brgy. Nagbinlod, Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental.
Maj. Cenon Pancito, spokesperson of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, confirmed yesterday the death of the soldiers who belonged to the 15th Infantry Battalion and had been tasked to visit their Community Support Team unit stationed in the barangay.
The two slain soldiers were identified by the Philippine Army as Sgt. Jhoem Meguillo of Zamboanga City, and Cpl. Alaster Balboa of Midsayap, North Cotabato.
Pancito strongly condemned the ambush of the two soldiers, who, he said, were not on combat mode and in civilian attire, and travelling on board a motorcycle.
“These NPAs had just proven, once again, what cowards they are in waging a fight against the government troops,” he said. “Since they cannot face us in gunbattle, they resorted to staging an ambush even of soldiers in civilian attire, which is a clear violation of human rights and accepted rules of engagement,” he added.
While the 3ID mourns the soldiers’ death, “We vow to bring justice to these terrorists. The ultimate justice paid by our soldiers in bringing peace to Negros Island makes our resolve to hunt them down to be stronger than ever. They will pay the price,” he added.
Barangay Yaoyao in Cauayan is one of the areas in Negros where the NPA thrives, and was greatly affected by the CSP operations of the 15IB, its commander, Lt. Col. Erwin Cariño, said.
“We honor the heroism and sacrifices of our fallen comrades and we will ensure that justice will be served,” Cariño said.
A day earlier, troopers of the PNP Special Action Force and the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 7 rescued an injured NPA member, who was abandoned by his fleeing comrades, following an encounter in Sitio Hulway, Brgy. Nagbinlod, Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental.
The gunbattle, that lasted for about eight minutes, prompted the suspected NPA members to scamper to various directions and leave behind their injured comrade, as well as war materials, including a .45 caliber pistol and a 12 gauge shotgun with ammunition, two rifle grenades, a fragmentation grenade, a first aid kit, and personal belongings.
The injured NPA member, whose identity had not been established as of this time, was immediately treated, before he was brought to a medical facility in Negros Oriental.
It was also not established if the injured NPA member was among those who figured in an encounter on March 29 with SAF and RMFB 7 troopers in the same area where two suspected communist rebels died.
Ten communist rebels also died in an encounter with Army soldiers in Brgy. Trinidad, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental on March 23.*