State troops clash with NegOr insurgents

DUMAGUETE CITY — Soldiers from the 62nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army engaged into an encounter with members of the New People’s Army rebels in two separate skirmishes in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

62IB commanding officer Lt. Col. William Pesase disclosed that during the encounters, the communist rebels split into smaller groups to evade the troops as they fled toward different directions in the hinterlands of Guihulngan.

“We will pursue them relentlessly to prevent them from regrouping as they continue to harass residents in Guihulngan as part of their plan to regain their mass base,” Pesase said.

The first encounter took place around 4 p.m. Wednesday in Sitio Mansulokon in Barangay Calupaan, with a gunfight that lasted for about five minutes before the rebels, belonging to the Central Negros 1 of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon Negros Cebu Bohol Siquijor fled.

Hot pursuit operations by the government troops resulted in another encounter at 6 a.m. Thursday in Barangay Trinidad, although the firefight lasted briefly, for about two minutes, before the rebels scampered again in different directions.

Recovered from the second clash were one .45-caliber pistol with one magazine fully loaded with ammunition, one backpack, and personal belongings.

Pesase said one of them may have been wounded or killed based on bloodstains found on the rebels’ route of withdrawal.

The 62IB commanding officer said civilians provided the government troops with information on the presence of armed men in their communities.

Meanwhile, Pesase said they are expecting possible atrocities and extortion activities by the insurgents in their area of responsibility following the death of a top NPA leader in Negros, identified as Romeo Nanta also known as Juanito Magbanua.

Nanta, the commanding officer of the Regional Operational Command of the Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros and spokesperson of the NPA’s Apolinario Gatmaitan Command, was killed in an encounter with 94th Infantry Battalion troops on 10 October in Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan in Negros Occidental.

Even though the NPAs in Himamaylan and Guihulngan are from different units, Pesase said they are expected to help each other as a “show of force,” and possibly carry out retaliatory attacks against the government.

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