By: Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – Three soldiers were injured while 329 individuals were evacuated following a clash between the military and suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) at Sitio Morino, Barangay Paitan, Escalante City, Negros Occidental on Aug 31, 2019.
The wounded were Corporals Homer Aniversario, Ronald Tuhao, and Jerald Caluyo, who are recuperating from minor injuries.
Aniversario was hit on his neck while Tuhao and Caluyo injured their right leg and right ear, respectively.
Brigadier General Benedict Arevalo, commander of Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde), said troops of the 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) received reports about the presence of NPA in the area.
However, the troops encountered about 30 suspected rebels while they were conducting combat operations, which resulted in a 45-minute fire fight.
The NPAs allegedly used an anti-personnel mine during the clash. They fled towards Sitio Sampinit.
Meanwhile, five casualties were reported on the NPA side after some of their members were seen dragging the bodies of their slain comrades from the encounter site.
Bloodstains were also found in the enemy’s position and escape route.
The Army also recovered several subversive documents with intelligence value, an anti-personnel mine during the clearing, and other personal belongings.
Additional soldiers and two helicopters of the Philippine Air Force were deployed for pursuit operations.
Arevalo said no civilians were hurt during the incident.
Around 109 households composed of 329 individuals from Sitio Morino and its adjacent Sitios of Mansano and Kagayon of the said barangay were safely evacuated to Paitan Elementary School. The government already provided assistance to the affected families.
Arevalo said the displaced families can return to their homes once clearing operations are done.
“The Army will continue its offensive against the terrorist NPAs. I encourage the people to report to us any information on the NPA movement and activities in their communities,” Arevalo said.
This is the third clash between the government forces and NPAs in Escalante City after the November 16, 2018 encounter at Barangay Washington which resulted in the death of two suspected rebels.
The second encounter was last March 21, 2019 at Barangay Mabini, where P300,000 worth of medicines were recovered.