Soldiers, rebels clash anew in Siaton town

A 15-minute firefight ensued between government troopers and suspected New People’s Army rebels in Barangay Apoloy, Siaton town in Negros Oriental, at about 9:40 a.m. yesterday.

Initial report from the Philippine Army showed that soldiers from the 32nd Division Reconnaissance Company of the 3rd Infantry Division, were conducting patrol operation at Sitio Danao, in Brgy. Apoloy, when they were fired upon by around nine suspected rebels and an amazon.

No casualty was reported on the government side and it was undermined if the rebels suffered losses, the Army said. Recovered at the encounter site were two jungle hammocks, two backpacks, one gas stove with attaché case, a communist flag, personal belongings and subversives documents, it added.

Major Gen. Jose Mabanta, chief of the 3rd ID, said Thursday the NPA strength in his area of jurisdiction is on a steep decline. The 3rd ID covers Negros, Capiz, Panay, Guimaras and Siquijor, that has 22 cities, 143 towns, 4,791 barangays and a combined population of 6,625,523.

In a briefing at the 3rd ID headquarters at Camp Macario Peralta, in Jamindan, Capiz, Mabanta said that NPA manpower in these areas only numbers to around 416 and have only 297 assorted firearms in their inventory.

He said this is equivalent to five guerilla fronts affecting only 100 barangays. “And the figures are going down all the time,” Mabanta added.

He attributed the downwind slide of the rebel movement to the sustained military action and civilian development programs being implemented by the national government.*JFP/PNA

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