• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Mayor Alme Rhumyla Nicor Mangilimutan yesterday declared that La Castellana in Negros Occidental, remains “generally peaceful”, after two recent armed clashes between Army soldiers and remnants of the New People’s Army in two of the municipality hinterland barangays.
Mangilimutan, who led the commemoration of the massacre of eight civilians and a policeman 11 years ago in Brgy. Puso, La Castellana, said the two encounters in Brgys. Puso and Sag-ang, in the municipality, were products of proactive security measures being implemented by law enforcement agencies in tandem with various stakeholders.
The two encounters led to the death of two suspected rebels and recovery of four high-powered firearms, and the surrender of a rebel political instructor whose husband was killed in the gunbattle.
Compared to the insurgency problem in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mangilimutan, who used to be a police officer, said that decades after, there is a great improvement of peace and order in La Castellana.
Law enforcers are now very active in responding to the needs of the people when it comes to peace and security, the mayor said.
Residents of Barangay Puso in La Castellana joined Mangilimutan, Rep. Emilio Dino Yulo, representatives of the 62nd Infantry Battalion, PNP Special Action Force and the local police, in giving honor to victims and survivors of an ambush perpetrated by the New People’s Army (NPA), during rites that commemorated the 11th year of the massacre.
During the January 27, 2013 incident, 12 others were injured, aside from the deaths of eight civilians and a policeman. The NPA, who had claimed responsibility for the act, later apologized.
A mass officiated by Fr. Ivan Cantor was offered to the victims, whose families and dependents, as well barangay residents availed of free medical services offered by the 62IB, PNP and the municipality of La Castellana.
Mangilimutan, newly-installed police chief Maj. Sherwin Fernandez, and Maj. Alenel Valles, executive officer of 62IB, called on the people of La Castellana to be vigilant of unidentified persons entering into their respective communities, and report it to the authorities.
The two rebel fatalities in Brgy. Sag-ang, La Castellana encounter turned out to be residents of Brgys. Linantuyan and Buenavista, both in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
Eleven years after the massacre, Mangilimutan said that all the road networks of Brgy. Puso, have been concreted, and a detachment also established to establish visibility for men in uniform.*