(UPDATED) -- Two soldiers were wounded after engaging in a firefight with suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels at Sitio Cunalom, Barangay Carabalan in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental Thursday morning.
The Police Regional Office (PRO)-Western Visayas identified the injured as Sergeant Jomar Dolorfino and Private Jelord Para-onda of the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Brigade. Both sustained minor gunshot wounds.
Dolorfino was injured during the initial encounter at 6:30 a.m. while Para-onda got hurt during the pursuit operation at 9:15 a.m.
Lieutenant Colonel Darrell Bañez, commanding officer of the 62nd IB, said in a statement the pursuit led to a firefight that lasted for about 30 minutes.
On Tuesday, troopers found an battalion-sized rebel camp, which served as a training ground of 100 persons at Sitio Madaja, Barangay Buenavista, also in Himamaylan.
Bañez said they sent additional troops to continue the pursuit operation and to block the exits of the retreating rebel group.
An army chopper returning to Bacolod City after transporting the two wounded soldiers to a hospital in Kabankalan City had to make an emergency landing near a highway in Hinigaran town after it suffered mechanical trouble.
Chief Inspector Jake Barila, chief of Hinigaran Municipal Police Station, said the chopper was boarded by four soldiers.
The Huey military helicopter left the town past 4 p.m.
Colonel Eliezer Losañes, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade, expressed his gratitude to the communities for their full cooperation and support to the soldiers’ fight against insurgency.
He added that the public is frequently reporting the presence of these rebels considered to be “terrorists” because of their intolerable extortion activities.
Losañes further assured the public that the army will continue to protect the people of Negros and address terrorism.
‘Cops on full alert’
For his part, Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Castil Jr., provincial director of Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Nocppo), said on Thursday the rebels are expected to launch tactical offensives, following the government’s cancellation of the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
Castil, in a press conference held at San Carlos City Police Station, encouraged policemen especially those assigned in the stations to always be on alert and to never lower their guards against the enemies.
“Always have the will to fight,” he added.
Castil also urged them to strengthen intelligence monitoring particularly in areas considered to be infested by rebels.
He also reiterated the importance of having good relationship with the community because it can help provide them information that might be helpful in their campaign against terrorism.