BACOLOD CITY – Six fighters of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) South West Front (SWF) died in a clash with troops of the Philippine Army’s 47th Infantry Battalion (IB) in the remote village of Tabugon in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental Thursday night.
In a report on Friday, the 3rd Infantry Division (ID) identified the fatalities, who were all from Squad 2 of Sangay Yunit Propaganda (SYP) Platoon 3, as Alejo “Peter/Bravo” de los Reyes, squad leader, and his wife Melissa “Diane” de la Peña; Marjon “Kenneth” Alvior, vice leader of Squad 2; Bobby “Recoy” Pedro, vice leader of Squad 3; and Mario “Reco/Goring” Fajardo Mullon, medic of Squad 1.
The sixth fatality has yet to be identified.
Their remains were brought to the Sola Gracia Funeral Services with the assistance of the city government.
Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, commander of 3ID, said the troops engaged the communist rebels who fired at them while responding to the reported presence of armed men demanding food and money from the locals.
The 10-minute firefight in Sitio Lubi took place at about 7:50 p.m., the report said.
Troops recovered four caliber .45 pistols and a caliber .38 revolver with ammunition, a hand grenade, electronic gadgets, personal belongings, and subversive documents.
“This is a big blow to the communist-terrorist group in Negros Island and brings them closer to becoming inconsequential. We are again calling on the remaining CPP-NPA rebels to return to the fold of the law, avail themselves of the government’s program, and live peacefully with their loved ones,” he added.
Mayor Benjie Miranda expressed sadness over the incident, which happened on the same day the southern Negros city was hosting a walk for peace and launching the Sentrong Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan para sa Bayan to counter the organizing, recruitment, and propaganda of the CPP-NPA.
“As a mayor and public servant, I’m greatly saddened about what happened. As I’ve said, I hope that we can unite in peace and development and incidents like this will not happen anymore,” he said in a radio interview.
According to the 3ID, the group of de los Reyes was behind the killing of Army soldiers in Sipalay City in November last year and in Cauayan town in April 2021.
In Sipalay, Sgt. Regie Glindro and Staff Sgt. Ken Camilan of the 47IB were conducting a reconnaissance operation when they were waylaid by the perpetrators along a hilly portion of Sitio Camboguiot in Barangay Camindangan.
Cpl. Alaster Balboa and Sgt. Jhoem Meguillo of the 15IB were fired upon by about 30 rebels in Sitio Cambaga, Barangay Yao-yao in Cauayan after visiting the Army’s Community Support Program teams.
The same group of NPA rebels also killed civilian Silas Granada, 65, in Barangay Pingot, Ilog in January this year. (PNA)