DUMAGUETE CITY – Eight suspected members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) died while several weapons were seized in a three-hour firefight with government troops in Barangay Trinidad in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental on Tuesday afternoon.
Maj. Cenon Pancito III, spokesperson of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, in an interview Wednesday said the still-unidentified fatalities were turned over to the Guihulngan City police and the local government unit for identification and proper disposition.
A media release from Pancito said 62nd Infantry Battalion soldiers encountered more or less 40 combined armed members of the Sentro de Grabidad (SDG) Platoon and the Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda (SYP) of the Central Negros 1, Komiteng Rehiyon Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor (KR-NCBS) in Sitio Agit of Barangay Trinidad.
The soldiers were responding to reports of a “threatened populace” due to the presence of the armed men, the media release said.
A gun battle ensued and lasted for about three hours that resulted in the death of the eight members, whose bodies were recovered later.
Seized from the site of the clash were six M-16 rifles, two M14 rifles, one M4 rifle, one M60 machine gun, one KG-9 sub-machine gun, two improvised explosive devices and paraphernalia, six M14 magazines with ammunition, two backpacks, and “subversive documents”.
Pancito said while there is no clear evidence yet that the NPA will be launching attacks in the wake of its upcoming anniversary on March 29, the merger of the two platoons signals “they are up to something”.
“We don’t know yet but whether it is for the anniversary or not, our directive to our units is to conduct relentless pursuit operations so that they cannot have the upper hand,” he said in mixed Cebuano and English.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Eric Vinoya, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), lauded the troops following the encounter and was quoted in the media release as saying: “I commend our troops, with (a) deepest sense of pride, for preventing such an evil plan to be conducted” by the CPP-NPA.
“The tragic death of these eight CPP-NPA terrorists is an urgent warning to the remaining members of the group to lay down their arms, avail of the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program benefits and the amnesty program of the government, and live their lives in peace while they still have time,” Vinoya said.
“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 was further quoted as saying.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (PNA)