By Mark Garcia
Two soldiers were killed, while eight others were wounded in an hour-long encounter between Army troops and suspected New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists, Saturday, in a hinterland village of Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental.
More than 230 local residents also left their homes and fled for their safety in the deadly clash that broke out in Barangay Tan-awan, just two days before the village and youth elections.
Killed were Sgt. Sandy Arevalo and PFC Vicente Marcon, while those wounded were Sgt. Sandy Arevalo, and PFCs Michael Besana, Voltair Catamin, Angelito Bariga, Kenneth Cerbo, Ryan Las Pinas, Joven Taghap and John Daryle Delgado.
Government forces are still pursuing the NPA rebels, even as the City Social Welfare and Development Office is now attending to the basic needs of the displaced families from seven hinterland sitios of Barangay Tan-awan as ordered by Mayor Isidro Zayco, Kabanakalan police chief Supt. Rhea Santos said.
Capt. Ruel Llanes, 303rd Infantry Brigade Civil Military Operations officer, said that the wounded soldiers are now in stable condition, and are being treated at a military hospital in Jamindan, Capiz.
He reported that the 62nd Infantry Battalion soldiers were conducting clearing and combat operations, when they figured in a chance engagement with about 60 NPA rebels, that led to an hour-long gunbattle.
The Communists encountered by 62IB troopers were also responsible for the burning of heavy equipment and construction materials belonging to a private firm, which has a project with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to construct a dam in Sitio Badian, also in Barangay Tan-awan, according to Llanes.
The NPA had earlier claimed responsibility for torching of the equipment which resulted in an estimated P6.8 million-damage, according to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).