BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The reported tactical offensives of the New People’s Army in Negros Island, before its founding anniversary on March 29, may have been foiled following an encounter Tuesday in Brgy. Trinidad, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, that left eight rebels dead and 11 high-powered firearms and anti-personnel mines recovered, Col. Michael Samson, acting commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, said yesterday.
Samson said that the consolidation of forces of the Central Negros Front 1 Sentro De Grabidad platoon and its Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda, estimated at 40 armed men, may have been in preparations for the NPA anniversary, and the conduct of tactical offensives against government outposts, which they usually did in previous years.
Following his designation as acting 303rd Infantry Brigade commander two months ago, Samson had been silently and painstakingly conducting aggressive operations against the NPA in central Negros, in coordination with the 302nd Infantry Brigade and police mobile force units.
With eight NPA members dead in three hours of gunbattle and the recovery of so many high-powered firearms, Samson said the Komiteng Rehiyonal- Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siquijor had suffered a major setback.
He added that the encounter took place while the 62nd Infantry Battalion soldiers responded to the persistent reports of local residents in the area being threatened by the presence of armed rebels in their community.
The identities of the eight slain rebels are still being established by the 62IB, in coordination with the Guihulngan City police force.
Samson said that fleeing rebels withdrew towards Brgy. Budlasan in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental, bringing along some of their slain and injured comrades.
Recovered from the encounter site were an M60 machine gun with a link of ammunition, six M16 assault rifles, two M14 rifles, one M4 rifle, a KG-9 sub-machine gun; two Improvised Explosive Devices, assorted magazines containing ammunition, and other personal belongings and subversive documents.
Major Gen. Eric Vinoya, Army’s 3rd Infantry Division commandeer, in a statement issued by its Public Affairs Office, lauded the troops for successfully preventing the CPP-NPA from causing terror in Negros Occidental, following the decisive engagement.
“This armed group has been planning to wage terror in the area as part of the NPA’s anniversary celebration this month,” Vinoya said, as he commend the 62IB for a job well done.
He added that the tragic death of eight NPA members is an urgent warning to the remaining NPA members to lay down their arms, avail of the amnesty program and Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the government, before it is too late.
“The government forces will be unceasing in wiping these terrorists out of the Negrense communities; hence, this is the only option for them to avoid misfortune and death,” Vinoya stressed.*