Army soldiers clashed with about 30 suspected members of the New People’s Army in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental, yesterday morning.
A team of soldiers from the 79th Infantry Battalion, led by Cpl. Jesus A. Alamon, were on combat patrol around 9:30 a.m. Monday at Sitio Cadlum in Barangay Nagbalaye, Sta. Catalina, when they came upon the group of suspected rebels and engaged them in a running gunbattle.
The armed men are believed to be members of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyonal Sentral Bisayas-South East Front operating in the southwestern portions of Negros Oriental.
No casualties were reported from the firefight that lasted for about 10 to 15 minutes after which the suspected rebels withdrew towards the northeast, Lt. Col. Marion Sison, commander of the 79th Infantry Battalion based in the adjacent town of Siaton, said.
Recovered items from the encounter site were 113 spent shells of caliber 5.56 M-16, 89 empty shells of caliber 7.62 M-14, 98 pieces of caliber .30 carbine, one compass, one stethoscope, one sphygmomanometer, six paracetamol tablets, four family pictures, three kilos of corn grits, one bottle of cymbush insecticide and an X-ray film result of a certain Sita Dacaldacal.
Sison said his troops were conducting combat patrol to verify a report from civilians on Sunday on the presence of armed men in the area.
He reiterated that, due to pressure on the rebels with the continuous conduct of combat operations, the NPA has apparently failed in its purported goal to campaign for the political candidates the underground movement is supporting in the May 13 polls.
Meanwhile, Sison said, the NPA is likely to take advantage of the upcoming mid-term elections by launching tactical offensives against soft targets, military detachments and vital installations.
He also said he is constantly meeting with the security officers of vital installations in his area to prevent possible attacks by the NPA at the height of the elections.
He said they have been on red alert status since May 1 in preparation for next week’s polls.*JFP
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