RECOVERED. The war materiel and subversive documents recovered by government troops after a clash with remnants of the New People's Army front group in Sibulan, Negros Oriental on Thursday (April 14, 2022). A rebel was found dead after the firefight. (Photo courtesy of the 11IB, Philippine Army)

DUMAGUETE CITY – A suspected member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) was killed on Thursday during an encounter with soldiers of the Philippine Army's 11th Infantry Battalion (11IB) in Barangay Enrique Villanueva, Sibulan, Negros Oriental.

The troops clashed with some 12 remnants of the South East Front (SEF) of the NPA at around 8 a.m. at Sitio Tulong and later recovered a cache of firearms and explosives, Lt. Col. Roderick R. Salayo, 11IB commanding officer, told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.

The firefight lasted for 15 minutes after which the suspected rebels fled in different directions. Salayo said the group of seven remnants previously reported in southern Negros Oriental had “merged” with their colleagues in Sibulan.

The operating troops utilized K9 dogs to go after the fleeing rebels, which resulted in the recovery of a body, identified as Jonard Salo alias Lino/Rapid/Nikko, Team 2 leader of the SEF remnants.

Recovered from the scene of the encounter were one M14 rifle, one M16A1 rifle, one KG-9 rifle, one homemade shotgun, three rifle grenades, five improvised explosive devices/anti-personnel mines, 10 pieces of 12-gauge ammo shotgun, five magazines, four M203 grenade launchers, four bandoliers, two NPA flags, 12 backpacks, assorted ammunitions, other personal belongings, and subversive documents.

Salayo vowed to intensify the peace and order efforts in their area of operation.

“Our enemy is persistently trying to recover their forces and capabilities but your Army will continue to provide security and deliver the best services as much as we can in line with the campaign and mandate of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC),” he said.

Salayo extended the Army’s sympathy to the family of the slain rebel and said they will facilitate the proper burial and transport of his body to Negros Occidental where he came from.

Meanwhile, he acknowledged the cooperation and vigilance of the residents, saying a tip-off led to the operation in the mountains of Sibulan.

Brig. Gen. Leonardo I. Peña, commander of 302nd Infantry Brigade, was quoted in a report from the 11IB as saying that the enemy is trying “to recover their loss area and recruit for new members; but our troops keep on preventing them because of the cooperation of the community by providing information” on the NPA.

“The government is calling our brothers and sisters deceived by false ideologies to abandon the armed struggle and return to the folds of the law. Rest assured that our security forces will assist them in availing (of) the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program which will change their lives for a better future and allow them to reunite with their respective families,” Peña said.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The National Democratic Front has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)