RETRIEVAL. The body of a Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army rebel is recovered in Barangay Trinidad, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental following an early morning encounter with government troops Monday afternoon (Nov. 21, 2022). He was the third rebel to be killed in separate encounters in Guihulngan in recent weeks. (Photo courtesy of the 62IB Philippine Army)

DUMAGUETE CITY – The rebel who was killed in a clash with government troops in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental was a local guerrilla unit commander of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Central Negros, a Philippine Army official said on Tuesday.

“He was the head of a local NPA unit that was responsible for the death of a CAFGU (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit) armed auxiliary (CAA) and other atrocities in Guihulngan and nearby areas,” Lt. Col. William Pesase, 62nd Infantry Battalion (62IB) commanding officer, said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.

Victoriano V. Baldonado, alias Rudy, 34, from Sitio Amumuyong in Barangay Trinidad, Guihulngan City, was the commanding officer of Section Guerrilla Unit (SGU), Central Negros Front 1 (CN1), Komiteng Rehiyon Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor (KR-NCBS).

The group operates in the tri-boundaries of Guihulngan City and Canlaon City in Negros Oriental and Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, the Army official said.

Baldonado was killed during a five-minute encounter between his group of five NPA rebels and 62IB troops in Sitio Banderahan, Barangay Trinidad, early Monday.

Local police, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) personnel, and soldiers recovered the body of Baldonado hours after the clash and brought it to a funeral parlor in the city proper. His family was already informed, the police said.

Pesase said Baldonado and his group were responsible for the killing of CAA Joselito Raboy on Sept. 24 in Barangay Montilla, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, and the harassment of a Philippine National Police detachment in Barangay Trinidad on Sept. 10, 2022, and Nov. 1, 2022.

“Ito pa rin yung armadong grupo sa mga areas na iyan na pag may pinaghihinalaan silang na kahit sa isip-isip lang nila ay supporter daw namin, pinapaalis nila (this is the same armed group in the tri-boundary hinterland areas that drive away residents who they think are supporting government forces),” he said.

“They also harass and threaten former rebels and those who intend to surrender to the government,” he added.

Baldonado is the third NPA member to be killed in separate encounters in Guihulngan City since late October as Army troops continue relentless anti-insurgency operations in Negros Island.

Pesase said the deaths of the three rebels is a “big blow” to the NPA.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, lauded the locals of Guihulngan City for their continued support especially in providing timely information to the troops of 62IB regarding the presence of rebels in their area.

He also expressed his appreciation to the 62IB, saying their dedication to duty exhibited during the encounter is "incomparable".

“Continue to be the best in going after the NPA. I am proud of the efforts and selfless dedication to service that you have rendered. I know that you are always prepared and ready to conduct security operations and employ the legitimate use of force against threat groups that endanger the well-being of the people, especially the Guihulnganons,” he added.

Pasaporte called for unity as he urged the remaining NPA members to surrender and avail of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). (PNA)