Soldiers overrun ‘rebel lair’ in Capiz

By Jennifer P. Rendon

Soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade overran a hideout allegedly occupied by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members in a far-flung area of Tapaz, Capiz.

Military soldiers discovered the alleged temporary NPA encampment a day after the encounter between state troopers and rebels in Sitio Nolwan, Barangay Siya, Tapaz, Capiz early morning of Jan 25, 2022.

Brigadier General Marion Sison, 301st IB commander, said around five members of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay (KR-P) clashed with soldiers in the middle of heavy rains.

The rebels were considered advance sentry of the main group of rebels under the command of either Francisco Balois alias Tonying or Gaspar Matullano alias Mayok.

Soaked in rainwater and trudging in mud, the soldiers and rebels engaged in a 10-minute firefight.

Heavy bloodstains were also seen on the rebels’ withdrawal route, indicating that some of them may have been wounded.

The soldiers subsequently scoured the area until they stumbled upon the alleged NPA hideout the following day.

Recovered were several war materials to include an anti-personnel mine, a hand grenade, a CPP-NPA flag, a cellphone charger, a wristwatch, two pairs rain boots, a backpack, electrical wires, subversive documents, assorted medicine, and other personal belongings.

The area could accommodate around 50 persons, but the military believed that the main force is just around 20 to 25 persons.

Sison said the hideout was far from the area inhabited by civilians.

“Takot na sila na lumapit sa lugar ng mga sibilyan dahil isusuplong din sila,” he said.

Apart from the terrain, the area is very far that soldiers were able to reach it after four days of walking.

It was believed that the rebels have been occupying the place for around 3 days when the encounter happened.

Sison said tips from civilians led them to the rebels who could be the same group that figured in an encounter with the soldiers of the 82nd Infantry Battalion, the 12th Infantry Battalion, and the 31st Division Reconnaissance Company on Jan 13 at Barangay Taganghin, Tapaz.

“After that, tuloy-tuloy na ‘yung operations namin,” Sison said.

Meanwhile, the 3rd Infantry Division confirmed that the troops have received information about the NPAs doing extortion activities prior to the encounter.

Following what happened, Major General Benedict Arevalo, 3rd commander, believed that the “CPP NPA terrorists in Capiz can no longer seek refuge with communities who are now fed up with their lies and atrocities.”

“Their only option now is to surrender or get killed”, he said.