Soldier, rebel killed in Bais City clash

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Saturday, July 5, 2014


A PHILIPPINE Army soldier and a suspected member of the New People’s Army (NPA) died in an encounter Friday morning in Bais City, Negros Oriental.

A report from the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army said troopers of the 79th Infantry Battalion engaged at least 15 armed men believed NPA members of the Komiteng Rehiyon Sentral Bisayas-South East Front (SEF) around 10 a.m. Friday at the remote Sitio Sandana in Barangay Mansangaban.

Lt. Col. Christopher Estella, deputy brigade commander, in an interview disclosed that early reports received by the brigade said the government troopers and the rebels clashed for about 30 seconds in Sitio Sandana.

The identity of the slain soldier has been withheld pending notification of the next of kin, said Estella.

On the other hand, the suspected rebel killed remains unidentified at press time. Initial description from Army sources said the man was young, with long hair, and fair complexion.

Estella said they are trying to determine whether insurgents from other parts of the island have merged with this group during the encounter.

Though the combat operations was initiated by the brigade, troops of the 79th IB and the 20th IB were on hand to conduct pursuit operations of the rebels, believed to be members of the SEF’s Sentro de Gravidad platoon allegedly led by a certain Domingo Compoc.

Estella said the clash was a direct result of reports from residents in the area to the brigade that some armed men were going around their barangays, asking for food, which worried local folks.

The dead were earlier scheduled for extraction via a helicopter to be brought from the encounter site to the Bais City proper, however, inclement weather had prevented this.

An ambulance was instead sent over to pick up the cadavers, said Estella.
Estella said Friday’s clash is an indicator that the NPA rebels are now on the run as the encounter site in Mansangaban was just a temporary harbor area of the rebels.

He noted that the small group of remnants of the SEF, numbering about 15, are now moving from their usual bases in the southern part of the province, such as villages in Sta. Catalina, to the central part of the province.

This can be seen in the pattern of the encounters recently, where the clash sites were no longer in Sta. Catalina but in the adjacent or boundary areas of Pamplona and Tanjay City and this time, Bais City, he pointed out.

Estella said soldiers recovered at least 15 ponchos, backpacks, personal belongings and documents. They also saw traces of blood on the escape route of the insurgents.

As of press time, the two bodies are still being transported to a funeral parlor in Bais City.

Their cadavers will be released to their respective families once the required documents are in order.

This is the second encounter between the rebels and government forces after the May 7 declaration of Negros Oriental as conflict manageable and development ready.

Authorities have vowed to target a zero insurgency for Negros Oriental although a time frame was not given, but following the declaration, some areas in the province now cleared of the insurgency threat have been turned over to the Philippine National Police. (PNA)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 05, 2014.

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