BACOLOD City – The Mount Cansermon Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) admitted to have a hand in the armed encounter on May 12 in Barangay Tan-awan, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.
The shootout was a “form of punishment” for the military over its operations that lead to human rights abuses in the hinterlands of Negros Occidental, NPA spokesman Dionesio Magbuelas said.
Members of the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (IB) were patrolling the village in relation to the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections when they chanced upon about 60 NPA rebels, resulting to the shootout that lasted for almost an hour, the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Nocppo) said.
The gunfight started at around 5:30 a.m., Nocppo added.
According to the Army, Sergeant Sandy Arevalo and Private First Class (PFC) Vicente Marcon were killed.
Eight other soldiers – Sergeant Niño Nabaunag, PFC Michael Besana, PFC Voltair Catamin, PFC Angelito Bariga, PFC Kenneth Cerbo, Private Ryan Las Piñas, Private Joven Taghap, and Private John Daryle Delgad – were wounded, it added.
But if the NPA was to be believed, five soldiers were killed in the encounter and 10 were wounded.
The NPA also said one of its members was killed and only two were injured.
Magbuelas said they confiscated an M203 grenade launcher, several ammunition, six back backs, and other military items after the shootout./PN