Hot pursuit operations against suspected New People’s Army rebels that government troopers encountered in Siaton, Negros Oriental, Thursday, continued without let up yesterday despite the bad weather that hampered the attempt to bring in the Army’s K-9 sniffing dog, Col. Marion Sison, commander of the 79th Infantry Battalion, said.
The dog was to be used in tracking down the suspected rebels through the items recovered at the encounter site in Sitio Danao, Brgy. Apoloy in Siaton, that included two jungle hammocks, two backpacks, a gas stove, a communist flag, personal belongings and subversive documents.
Sison said a civilian and a former NPA rebel informed the Army of the presence of armed men in the area.
At around 9:40 a.m. Thursday, soldiers from the 32nd Division Reconnaissance Company of the 3rd Infantry Division were conducting patrol operation in the sitio when nine suspected rebels and an amazon or lady fighter opened fire at them.
A 15-minute firefight erupted before the suspected rebels fled, leaving behind some belongings. Sison said the site of the encounter looked like a temporary holding area of the rebels.
The clash occurred as key officials of the Philippine Army, headed by Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, were attending the regional launching of the Bantay Bayanihan project in Dumaguete City.
No casualty was reported on the government side, but Sison claimed they received reports that bloodstains were noticed along the withdrawal route of the suspected NPA guerillas.
Thursday’s encounter was the second to happen this quarter in the 79th IB area of responsibility, Sison added.*JFP