BACOLOD CITY – Four New People’s Army (NPA) rebels died while two others were injured following an encounter with troops of the Philippine National Police 6th Special Action Force Battalion (6SAB) in Barangay Tabu, Ilog town in Negros Occidental on Tuesday.
A report from the 6SAB on Wednesday said the bodies of the four fatalities were brought to the Sola Gracia Funeral Homes in the neighboring Kabankalan City.
They were identified as Christian “Hans” Vargas, platoon leader of Platoon 3; Joel Fundador of Squad 3, Platoon 1; alias Nikie/Arnie, political instructor of Platoon 3; and alias George of Squad 2, Platoon 1.
The wounded included Nilda Bertulano, secretary of SWF Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor (KR-NCBS), being treated at the Lorenzo D. Zayco District Hospital in Kabankalan City; and alias Christian, who is confined at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital here.
All the rebels belong to the NPA’s South West Front (SWF)- Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros.
A 6SAB trooper was initially reported as wounded, but he did not sustain injury as the bullet just hit a magazine inserted in the Kevlar plate of his tactical vest.
Lt. Col. Ryan Manongdo, commander of 6SAB, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that Bertulano and Vargas occupy the top two positions in the SWF.
“The Armed Forces has confirmed their identities. Nilda is the leader while ‘Hans’ is in-charge of the armed component,” he said.
Meanwhile, troops captured four other persons, but only Joebell Pacondo Mabayag, 26, remains in the custody of the Ilog Municipal Police Station, after the three were released due to insufficient evidence.
The encounter, which started at around 7:20 a.m., lasted for an hour and 10 minutes, the report said.
During the clearing operation, troops recovered high-powered firearms, including M16 rifle, M14 rifle, M203 grenade launcher, AK47 assault rifle, and caliber .38 revolver, all loaded with ammunition, as well as two hand grenades, two 40mm explosives, detonating cords, hand-held radios, mobile phones, laptop computer, mini projector, pocket wifi, USB flash drives, and solar panels.
Also, among those recovered were medical supplies, including surgical scissors, medical syringes, a bottle of dextrose, and assorted medicines.
The Communist Party of the Philippines, with its armed wing, the NPA, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)