• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Another New People’s Army rebel was killed yesterday in another encounter in Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental, increasing to three the number of NPA combatants that died since January 17.
The latest encounter ensued between 11th Infantry Battalion troopers and about nine remnants of the dismantled South East Front of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siquijor at about 6 a.m. yesterday at Sitio Sug-ong in Brgy. Milagrosa, Santa Catalina.
The armed skirmishes led to the death of a suspected NPA member, whose identity has yet to be established as of this time, and the recovery of an M16 assault rifle, three AK47 assault rifle magazines containing ammunition, an M203 grenade launcher ammunition, and nine backpacks containing personal belongings.
On Wednesday, two suspected remnants of the dismantled Central Negros 1 guerilla front also died, following an encounter with 62IB soldiers in Hacienda Gomez, Brgy. Sag-ang La Castellana.
Recovered from that encounter site were an AR15 assault rifle, a .45 caliber pistol, a homemade 12-gauge shotgun, assorted magazines of firearms with ammunition, two backpacks containing assorted medical paraphernalia and personal belongings, as well as subversive documents.
The Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office has recorded 31 families, composed of 126 individuals, that temporarily evacuated from their homes in Hacienda Gomez and neighboring areas in Brgy. Sag ang, La Castellana, as a result of the encounter
PCol. Leo Pamittan, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, yesterday said that the affected families have already returned to their respective homes after the area was cleared by the Philippine Army.
Pamittan said that the rebel remnants fled from the hinterlands of Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, to the far flung areas of La Castellana in Negros Occidental, to avoid the focused military operations of the Philippine Army.
With the dwindling of their numbers, the NPA remnants are now trying to regain the support of the masses, whom they will use as “force multipliers,” he added.
The encounters in La Castellana and Santa Catalina took place several days after 79IB soldiers also overran and recovered assorted firearms, following an encounter with about five remnants of the dismantled Northern Negros Front in Brgy. Cambayobo, Calatrava, Negros Occidental.*