THREE soldiers belonging to the 79th Infantry Battalion were wounded in an encounter against suspected members of New People's Army in Sitio Morino, Barangay Paitan, Escalante City, Negros Occidental around 06:45 a.m., Saturday, August 31.
Based on military reports the encounter lasted for about 45 minutes after receiving prior reports of NPA presence and while conducting combat operations in the area.
The 3 soldiers who sustained slight injuries were identified as Corporal Homer Aniversario who was injured in the upper left part of the neck; Corporal Ronald Tuhao who was hit in one of the toes in his right leg; and Corporal Jerald Caluyo who was wounded in the right ear. They are all confined at an undisclosed hospital undergoing treatment.
The NPAs reportedly withdrew towards the forested portion of Sitio Sampinit of the same barangay.
Based on military reports, the NPAs suffered 5 casualties being dragged away by the enemies, as seen by the engaging soldiers and revelation from the populace. Heavy bloodstains were also found in the NPA position and route of withdrawal.
The government troops also recovered an anti-personnel mine and other items during clearing of the area and pursuit of the fleeing terrorist NPAs to include; a 20-meter anti-personnel mine detonating wire; 5-meter utility rope; a back pack (black); 2 G-Shock watches; subversive pamphlets, documents and lecture materials; a hammock; 1 NPA cap; clothing; a tumbler; toiletries and candies.
Meanwhile, no civilians were hurt in the encounter and 109 households (329 individuals) from Sitio Morino and its adjacent Sitios of Mansano and Kagayon of said barangay were safely evacuated in Paitan Elementary School.
In response, the 79th Infantry Battalion led by Captain Rowell Dairocas the battalion Civil-Military-Operations Officer, organized a Quick Reaction Team together with Escalante City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (DRRMO), City Health Office (CHO), City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), city and barangay officials to provide necessary assistance to said evacuees.
The temporarily displaced families have undergone medical check-up, were given relief goods and “Disaster Assistance Family Access Cards’” from the CSWDO.
Additional soldiers and 2 helicopters of the Philippine Air Force were also deployed for pursuit operations.
“The Army will continue its offensive against the terrorist NPAs. I also encourage the people to report to us any information on NPA movement and activities in their communities,” said Brigadier General Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade Commander.
This is the third clash between government forces and NPAs in Escalante City after the November 16, 2018 encounter in Barangay Washington that resulted in 2 NPAs killed and recovery of an M16 rifle, .45 caliber pistol, bandoleer with 6 steel magazines and 120 live ammunition, water containers, sacks of rice, assorted belongings, and subversive documents with high intelligence value.
While the second encounter was last March 21, 2019 at Barangay Mabini where Php 300,000.00 worth of medicines were recovered.