BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Two more separate encounters ensued yesterday in the hinterlands of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, and Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, as the infantry units of the 3rd Infantry Division pressed their focused military operations against New People’s Army rebels in Negros Island.
The sixth encounter ensued between Army soldiers and fleeing New People’s Army rebels in Brgy. Carabalan, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, as state security forces sealed the exit points of the village.
Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, reported last night that 94th Infantry Battalion soldiers clashed with about 10 NPA rebels, who have been on the run since October 6.
Army soldiers initially recovered a backpack containing personal belongings.
Troopers of the 62nd Infantry Battalion also clashed with another group of rebels in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, according to an initial report of the 303rd Infantry Brigade
Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson yesterday said he finds “unexpected” the numerous encounters between rebels and Army soldiers in just one area for almost a week now.
Lacson noted that previous gun battles usually lasted overnight, or the most two days. But this one extended to almost a week, he said.
Even Pasaporte was surprised by the duration of the first encounter in Sitio Sig-ang, Brgy. Carabalan, Himamaylan City, that lasted for about 40 minutes, which he also finds unusual compared to other gun battles, noting that clashes in Negros Island usually last only five to 10 minutes.
The 5th encounter in the same village claimed the life of Romeo Nanta, who was tagged as the regional commander of the NPA in Negros Island.
Most probably they have been reinforced by other groups, to secure their cornered top leaders, Pasaporte said, when asked why the NPA sustained the gun battle for several days.
Lacson called on the rebel remnants to return to the fold of the government, stressing that many of their comrades availed of help from the government after abandoning the armed struggle.
In war, there are no winners, he said.
You can lose people from the government side, we can also lose people from the other side, Lacson said, apparently referring to the NPA.*