CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES- They earlier attempted to plant landmines, infiltrated a dialogue later then fought with government troopers. When the smoke cleared, an army trooper was killed, 2 others wounded for the government side, the rebels have 1 killed, 3 surrendered and an undetermined number were believed to be wounded.

The incident all took place over the weekend in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental where Police Regional Office (PRO7) Regional Director Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas held a dialogue with its residents and a civic action activity geared in neutralizing the CNN (Communist Party of the Philippines- New Peoples Army- National Democratic Front) combatants in the Negros Island.

“We preempted their planting of explosives when our men had a clearing operation. Obviously, they wanted to hurt people,” Sinas told reporters in a mix of English and Cebuano earlier today in a press briefing inside the PRO7 headquarters. Sinas said the encounter past 11pm last Saturday, June 22, in Sitio Kambugtong, Brgy. Bantolinao, Manjuyod occurred hours just after they held a medical-dental outreach program in the town.

It also happened as several residents were enjoying the free concert of the PRO7 combo and dancers in the municipal gym. Sinas said the rebels tried but failed to plant landmines earlier near the outreach program site in Sitio Sampiniton which is just more than a kilometer away from the encounter site. The rebels in Negros Oriental considers Manjuyod as their haven, Sinas said.

“They will really bound nga ipa stop tung medical and dental outreach kabalo mug ngano, our assessment is murag na hurt sila sa massive medical dental outreach because that area, they consider it as there haven.” The casualty from the government side was identified as army Corporal Leoter Cagape (94th IB) and the two wounded; Pfc. Cris Emmanuel E. Paja and Pvt. Denyl P. Reyes.

The rebels according to 302nd Brigade Commander Brig. Gen. Ignacio Madriaga also had one dead and three have surrendered. Madriaga said had the landmines been set-up, it could have caused tremendous damage as the troopers led by 1LT Abdulnasser Israel and elements of the PNP 704th MC Regional Mobile Force Batallion (RMFB7) recovered the explosives that were as big as paint cans.

“Imagine the damage that it would cause. Mga lima yung mga na recover na ganun so i-imagine mo, the NPA are now willing na out of desperation na gumamit ng mga banned explosives, very indiscriminate na explosives,” Madriaga said.

According to Madriaga, those encountered by the troop of Lt. Israel numbering at least twenty were the combined forces of the Leonardo Panaligan Command in Negros Oriental and the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command in Negros Occidental.

Sinas for his part condemned the preempted use of the landmines which he described as the retaliation of the rebels of the success of the medical-dental outreach program of the government more particularly, the PRO7. “We would like to condemn to the highest magnitude, ang idea ng CPP-NPA na mang-harass ng good social implementation ng medical and dental outreach.”

According to Sinas the rebels succeeded in infiltrating them in the medical-dental outreach program because some of the recovered items in the battle scene were bottled fruit juices from a multi-national company that they have distributed during the activity.

Unlike their previous outreach programs, PRO7 intel observed also that the majority of those that joined in their Manjuyod activity were males, the earlier activities were dominated by females. “We noticed that there were lot of males and the juices that we gave were found in the encounter site,” Sinas said.

Under the leadership of Gen Sinas, PRO7 also launched Operation Plan (OPLAN) Sauron 1 and 2 which led to the killing of at least 20 suspected rebels and their hardcore sympathizers, mostly peasants. Oplan Sauron 1 resulted to the death of 5 in Guihulngan and 1 in Santa Catalina.

Sauron 2 had 8 deaths in Canlaon, 2 in Sta. Catalina and 4 in Manjuyod. Apart from the explosives for the landmines, the government troopers also found a rifle grenade, 248 pieces of M16 bullets, AK-47 and M203 ammo and at least 340 empty shells of assorted ammo, subversive documents, among others./AAJ


The encounter site in Barangay Bantolinao, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental