BODIES FOUND. Troops of the Philippine Army’s 94th and 47th Infantry Battalions found two bodies of New People's Army (NPA) rebels after an encounter in Sitio Makilo, Barangay Camansi in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental early morning of Wednesday (Nov. 30, 2022). The fatalities were brought to Sola Gracia Funeral Services in the same city. (Photo courtesy of the 94th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY – Two more fighters of the New People's Army (NPA) were killed in a clash with government troops in Negros Occidental on Wednesday, two days after two of their comrades died in a skirmish as soldiers responded to the rebels’ continued harassment and extortion activities in the remote areas of central and southern Negros.

Troops of the Philippine Army’s 94th and 47th Infantry Battalions (IB) found two bodies after engaging about 10 communist terrorists in Sitio Makilo, Barangay Camansi in Kabankalan City at past 2 a.m.

Capt. Eduardo Rarugal Jr., 94IB civil-military operations officer, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the bodies have been brought to Sola Gracia Funeral Services in the southern Negros city.

The military has yet to identify the fatalities but a statement from the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA’s political wing, National Democratic Front-Negros, confirmed that one of them is their consultant Ericson Acosta, who was in Kabankalan "to consult" with farmers in southern Negros, together with a peasant-organizer, who was the other fatality, but whom they did not name.

In a report, the 94IB said two clashes took place – at 2:10 a.m. and 2:15 a.m. – after the joint troops responded to reports on the presence of NPA rebels asking for food supplies.

These rebels are believed to be among those involved in the series of armed encounters in Barangay Cabalan of the neighboring Himamaylan City last month, the report added.

After the clash, the troops also recovered a KG9 assault rifle and two caliber .45 pistols with magazines and ammunition, and two hand grenades, as well as CPP-NPA flags, Mao caps, subversive documents, and lecture materials.

“We laud the bravery of the residents in reporting the presence of the NPA that caused the encounter. The NPA is becoming irrelevant in the communities of Kabankalan City and Negros as a whole. The last option for them is to surrender or suffer the same fate like their fallen comrades,” Lt. Col. Van Donald Almonte, commander of 94IB, said in a statement.

In a separate statement, Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, commended the joint efforts of the 94IB and 47IB troops together with the locals, which resulted in a successful operation against the NPA.

“The successive debacle of the NPA in Negros is a clear manifestation that they are losing grip and influence over their claimed mass base. Their movement is now limited as Negrenses are very vigilant in reporting their presence and activities,” he added.

On Monday, two communist rebels also died in a clash with troops of the 62nd Infantry Battalion in Barangay Quintin Remo in Moises Padilla town, Negros Occidental.

The fatalities were identified as both part of the Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda Platoon Lenovo of the NPA's Central Negros Front 1. (PNA)