By Martin Sadongdong
Six fully-armed members of the New People’s Army (NPA), including a Mass Communication student at the University of the Philippines (UP)-Cebu, were captured by the military after a gun battle in Negros Oriental on Saturday before dawn.
LTC Darrell Banez, commanding officer of the 62nd Infantry (Unifier) Battalion, 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division of the Philippine Army (PA), said that the arrest of the six rebels came after they received several complaints from civilians in the hinterland of Mabinay and Manjuyod towns about the harassment and extortion activities of the NPA group.
Banez said he deployed his troops to conduct community security patrol and as they reached Sitio Tumonon in Barangay Luyang, Mabinay, Negros Oriental, around 2 a.m., they were welcomed by the gunfire from around 20 suspected NPA rebels.
The troops managed to retaliate and the gunfight lasted for 45 minutes, Banez said, which led to the capture of the six rebel fighters, including an “amazon who is a Mass Communication student of University of the Philippines-Cebu.”
“Among the six terrorists captured are two armed minors who were recruited as NPA terrorist[s] from Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental,” Banez further said.
However, the rebels’ identities were not divulged by the military as a follow up investigation was launched to track down the other NPA suspects.
The military recovered high-powered firearms from the captured suspects including one M16A1, one M16A1 attached with M203 grenade launcher, two M4 rifles, one VLTOR (M16), one AG 43 (M16), rifle grenades, explosives, other war fighting materials, food stuff and subversive documents.
Meanwhile, 303rd Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Elizer Losanes said, the capture of the six NPA suspects is “a clear manifestation that the people themselves are tired of these armed NPA terrorists conducting extortion, harassment and recruitment of minors as terrorists.”
“Furthermore, despite the encounter, the capture of the six communist terrorists who were unharmed clearly shows the troops’ adherence to the principles of human rights, International Humanitarian Law and rule of law with its primacy of preserving human lives,” Losanes said.
“With our continuous combat operation against the communist terrorists, we encourage the (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA terrorists to lay down their arms, return to the folds of the law and avail of the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program and live a normal and peaceful life,” he added.
Prior to the encounter, troops who are conducting peace security patrol have discovered enemy encampments at Barangay Samac in Mabinay town and Barangay Panciao in Manjuyod, all of Negros Oriental, Losanes said.
A week ago, Losanes added that the CPP-NPA rebels burned a tractor in La Castellana and a sugarcane truck hauler in Canlaon City.