A civilian was killed and another wounded when suspected New People’s Army hitmen launched simultaneous assassination activities Tuesday night in the hinterlands of Toboso, Negros Occidental, a day after the ceasefire ended on February, 21, Army Col. Jonas Sumagaysay, said yesterday.
Sumagaysay, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said Randy Ellanic, whose brother, Rene, served as a member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit, died on the spot, after he was shot Tuesday night by a group of NPA assassins in Sitio Mahusay, Brgy. Magticol, Toboso.
Another group of armed rebels also shot and injured a civilian identified as Joemarie Aguirre in the same barangay, Sumagaysay said.
He added that the rebels also commandeered a cargo truck owned by former Constabulary Sgt. Baterna, which was driven by Freddie Helardes, and pushed it down a ravine in Brgy. Bug-ang, Toboso.
Sumagaysay described the acts of the NPA as a sign of desperation, and a form of retaliation against civilians who are no longer supporting them.
He also claimed that four rebels died, while a dozen were reported injured, in several armed skirmishes with government soldiers. Two other rebels were killed during a mis-encounter among NPA members in Brgy. General Luna, Toboso on Feb. 4, while withdrawing from pursuit operations of the 62nd Infantry Battalion.
The hinterlands of Calatrava, Toboso and even Escalante are now the focus of combat operations by the 62nd IB, following the arrival of NPA forces from Guihulngan to northern Negros.
Sumagaysay said he has received reports that the NPA may attempt again to launch a tactical offensive before its March 29 founding anniversary celebration, which they had failed to do before the start of the 7-day ceasefire on Feb. 15.
The cessation of hostilities in Negros Occidental, which was successful, was used by the NPA, especially those in northern Negros, to rest and consolidate their forces, he said.*GPB