Army officer killed in clash with NPA in Negros Occidental

MANILA, Philippines — An Army officer was killed in an encounter between government troops and suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Negros Occidental Tuesday morning, a military spokesman said Wednesday.

The fatality was identified as 2nd Lieutenant Jose Angelo Esguerra, said Captain Reylan Java of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

He said Esguerra and his troops from the 47th Infantry Battalion were on their way to Barangay (village) Basak, Cauayan when they were fired upon by NPA rebels before noon Tuesday at Sitio(sub-village) Manluya, Barangay Tuyom, Cauayan.

The platoon of soldiers were to conduct peace and development works when the incident happened, Java said.

Esguerra was rushed to Kabankalan Doctors’ Hospital but did not survive.

The peace and development works of the army is to aid the local government determine issues in the community, said Colonel Oscar Lactao, Brigade Commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade based in Murcia, Negros Occidental.

“The attack on our soldiers performing PDW is also an attack against our poor people in the hinterland communities whose lives the NPA don’t want to
improve. The NPA’s armed struggle continues to claim lives of our countrymen. Now, another mother will weep,” added Lactao.

Tuesday’s encounter came a day after Negros Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr. lashed back at the NPA by calling the rebel group as “anti-progress” and “anti-peace”.

Marañon issued the statement after the National Democratic Front condemned the alleged intensification of militarization under AFP Internal Peace and
Security Plan Bayanihan in Negros. The IPSP is the military’s campaign plan against insurgency.

Meanwhile,  an hour before the Cauayan encounter, government troops from the 32nd Division Reconnaissance Company also clashed with NPA rebels in
Sitio Avocado, Barangay Talalak, Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental.

Troops led by 2nd Lieutenant Jan Batay-an, were conducting peace and security operations when they were fired upon by around seven armed rebels, Java said.

The rebels withdrew after a five-minute firefight leaving behind one backpack containing subversive documents, one bandoleer with four magazines and five live ammunition, and a hand grenade.

No one was hurt among the government troops while the NPA may have suffered several casualties based on the blood stains in the encounter site, he added.

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