BACOLOD CITY – An encounter in the hinterlands of E.B. Magalona, Negros Occidental claimed the lives of two Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) rebels and led to the recovery of various weapons on Tuesday afternoon.
In a report on Wednesday, the Philippine Army's 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) said troops of the 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) engaged about nine remnants of the dismantled NPA Northern Negros Front (NNF) in Sitio Nabalas Dos, Barangay Canlusong, a former rebel-influenced village later declared as insurgency-cleared.
The fatalities were identified as couple Christian Job Joaquin Vargas of E.B. Magalona town and Mylene Malasabas Salgado of Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City.
Vargas is the leader of Squad 3 of the remnants of NNF, and both were dispatched by the NPA’s Regional Operations Command from Central Negros to reinforce the recovery efforts of the dismantled NNF, according to a separate report of 79IB.
Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, commander of 3ID, said the attempt of the communist-terrorists to regain their influence in Barangay Canlusong has failed.
“The residents themselves rejected them. They no longer want the (CPP-NPA) manipulating the people in their communities. Clearly, the people have chosen to live in peace and made a stand to end local armed conflict,” he said in a statement.
Records of E.B. Magalona police showed that both Vargas and Salgado have a warrant of arrest for attempted murder issued by Acting Presiding Judge Walter Zorilla of Regional Trial Court Branch 56 in Himamaylan City.
Vargas also has multiple arrest warrants for murder with no recommended bail from the RTC Branch 61 in Kabankalan City.
According to the 3ID, troops responded to reports from the locals of rebels conducting extortion activities, which led to a 15-minute gunbattle.
There were no reported casualties among the soldiers.
At the encounter and the subsequent clearing operation, they recovered three M16 rifles and an M14 rifle, an AR15 rifle, and Garand rifle along with four rifle grenades and assorted live ammunition.
Also found were personal belongings and subversive documents.
As an insurgency-cleared barangay, Canlusong is a recipient of projects under the Local Government Support Fund-Support to Barangay Development Program.
Some 80 former members and mass supporters of the CPP-NPA pledged loyalty to the Philippine government in 2019, and the following year, a barangay resolution declared the CPP-NPA and its political wing, the National Democratic Front, as persona non grata. (PNA)