• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Armed Forces of the Philippines Visayas Command is determined to end the local communist armed conflict in Visayas as soon as possible, following a series of debacles suffered by the New People’s Army in the region, its commander, Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, said.
This developed as more armed engagements ensued between Army soldiers and suspected New People’s Army members in Negros Island, with the rebel death toll rising further to 10, and more guns and other war materials recovered by government forces in six encounters from May 19 to 21.
The encounter on Sunday in Sitio Bajay, Brgy. Caliling, Cauayan, Negros Occidental, led the seizure of a rebel camp, whose occupants abandoned their slain comrade.
Government troops also recovered a caliber .45 pistol with two magazines containing ammunition, an anti-personnel mine, and a backpack containing personal belongings, from the rebel camp.
Nine rebel fatalities, whose cadavers were left behind by their fleeing comrades, were retrieved at the two encounter sites in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, and Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, according to reports of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.
Arevalo attributed the series of debacles suffered by the CPP in Visayas region to active convergence between them and the people, as well as local government units.
In six separate encounters that involved 62nd, 11th and 15th Infantry Battalions, which confronted members of the weakened Central Negros 1, remnants of the dismantled South East Front and South West Front of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros/ Cebu/Bohol/ Siquijor, government forces recovered 16 assorted firearms, including three M16 assault rifles, an M4 Firebird assault rifle, a caliber .30 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), four caliber .45 pistols, three caliber .38 revolvers, an Uzi machine pistol, two 12-gauge shotguns, four Improvised Explosives Devices (IEDs) with detonating cords, eight rifle grenades and ammunition for a 40mm grenade launcher, and a fragmentation grenade, among other war materials.
This is a clear manifestation of the strong bond that we have, in the fight against terrorism, Arevalo said.
“This is never going to stop,” the VISCOM chief said, as he also stressed that they will not allow “peace spoilers” to further sow fear and terror, as their operations will continue without any let up.
“We will continue to push with our focused military operation and push harder, until justice is served for the atrocities that the terrorist group has committed to our people,” Arevalo further said.
Another armed engagement also took place on May 19 in Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental, military records showed.
Two improvised anti-personnel mines with detonating cords, a .38 caliber revolver with six ammunition, ammunition of 40mm grenade launcher, cellphones, and 14 combat packs containing medical supplies, personal belongings and subversive documents were recovered by 11th Infantry Battalion soldiers, following an encounter with six remnants of the dismantled South East Front in Sitio Undol, Brgy. Talalak, Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental.*