BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Eight suspected New People’s Army rebels yesterday died after more than three hours of gunbattle with soldiers of the 62nd Infantry Battalion in Sitio Agit. Brgy. Trinidad, Guihulngan, Negros Oriental.
Maj. Cenon Pancito, spokesperson of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said last night that the eight slain rebels were left behind by their fleeing comrades at the encounter site.
Pancito said that about 40 NPA rebels were encountered by the 62IB soldiers, who responded to information from residents about the presence of an armed group in the area.
Army soldiers recovered 11 high-powered firearms at the encounter site, including six M16 assault rifles, two M14 rifles, one M60 machine gun, M4 assault rifle, a KG automatic pistol, two IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), or homemade anti-personnel mines and its wires, six magazines of M14 containing ammunition, two back packs and subversive documents.
Pancito recalled that Army soldiers and suspected rebels figured in four previous encounters in the same place and its neighboring areas, which they considered as bastion of insurgency in Negros Island.
The cadavers of slain rebels were turned over by the Philippine Army to the police for identification by their respective families as pursuit operations against the fleeing rebels are still underway as of this time, he said.
Additional Army soldiers were also deployed to provide additional blocking forces and the conduct of checkpoints as police stations and CAFGU military outposts have been alerted for possible retaliation from the NPA, Pancito added.
He said that the estimated 40 armed rebels encountered by 62IB were believed to be member of the combined Sentro De Grabidad Platoon and Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda forces of Central Negros Front 1 of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros/Cebu/Bohol/ Siquijor.*