Tanjay City, Negros Oriental – Government troops from 79th Infantry “Masaligan” Battalion recovered one (1) firearm and four body counts, while (2) militia members gave up after series of encounters with lawless elements at Sitio Pitawa, Brgy Sto. Niño, Tanjay City, Negros Oriental at 4p.m. Saturday May 24, 2014.
The troops were conducting community security patrol to check on the reported presence of lawless armed elements at said barangay when they were fired upon by more or less twenty four (24) NPA members. The troops resorted to fire back and a firefight ensued for thirty five (35) minutes. The NPA withdrew to different directions.
While in pursuit of the fleeing rebels, the troops encountered again the lawless elements at 4:45pm the same day which lasted for twenty (20) minutes. The NPA withdrew towards different directions.
The series of encounters resulted to the killing of four (4) NPA rebels, two (2) of them were identified by the former rebels who just returned to democratic folds as Diosdado “Aming” Dacal-dacal alias GIM/ADONIS/MARCO, Squad Leader of Sentro De Grabidad (SDG) Platoon, Southeast Front, KR-Negros (SEF, KR-N) and Felix Yanoc. The identities of the other two dead rebels are being determined as of this report.
The identities of (2) militia members who gave up after the encounters are currently being withheld for their safety and security. One (1) who reportedly sustained wound on his right foot was immediately treated by the Masaligan medical team. They were treated humanely and apprised of their constitutional rights.
Brigadier General Francisco Patrimonio, Commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade said “This is our commitment to the province of Negros Oriental, to protect their place and secure the populace from these lawless elements as the province is moving out of the communist affectation.”
Recovered from the NPA were one (1) M16 rifle; one (1) Kenwood handheld radio; one (1) bandoleer; subversive documents of high intelligence value; food stuffs and personal belonging.
Meanwhile, Corporal Melbert Dapilaga of 79IB also sustained a minor injury on his left shoulder from grenade shrapnel during the encounter. He is now in stable condition after he was treated in a hospital in Dumaguete City.
The troops while pursuing the lawless elements saw some NPA members were wounded while on the run and believed that several others were also wounded due to bloodstains in the NPA’s route of withdrawal.
Ltc Harold Anthony Pascua, Commander of 79IB said “We condole and extend our deepest sympathy to the families of slain rebels. It was tragic that they have taken arms against the peaceloving people of Negros Oriental. We have alerted our medical team in any time that those wounded NPA members would seek for medical assistance. We call on those rebels to come out, lay down their arms peacefully and be given proper medical attention. They are being assured that their human rights will be respected.”
The 3ID’s leadership on the other hand acknowledged the efforts of the community for the timely reporting of presence of lawless elements in their area. It indicates the strong desire of the people to move away from communist affectation and help their province towards development.
MGen Baladad commended the troops for their professionalism and observcance to human rights and the rule of law. “As we continue with our follow-on operations, our soldiers were instructed to strictly follow the rule of law and put the safety of our people as the primary consideration. Again, we thank the residents of Brgy Sto Niño, Tanjay City for these efforts as they provided the necessary information which led to the successful conduct of our operations.”
“Armed struggle and violence only continue to hamper growth and development in this part of the country. We hope that the NPA would embrace peace, abandon the armed struggle and work with us together with other stakeholders in the Filipino spirit of Bayanihan, to end this conflict and move forward towards peace and progress,” Baladad added
Additional Troops are now in the area conducting pursuit operations to run after the fleeing rebels while members of the Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) conducted investigation in the encounter site.
Troops of 79IB are also in close communication with the barangay officials to ensure the safety and security of the residents in the area. Likewise, coordination is being made with the local officials for the assistance that will be extended for the decent burial of the slain NPA members. (Press release from DPAO, 3ID, PA)