4 rebels captured; guns, explosives recovered

Gilbert Bayoran
The military captures 4 New People's Army rebels after a firefight in Negros Oriental

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Four suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members were captured after a gun battle with Army Scout Ranger troopers Friday, September 6, in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

The arrest of the 4 suspects who confessed to be NPA members, also yielded an M14 assault rifle with a magazine containing ammunition, two hand grenades, 7 backpacks with jungle hammocks and personal belongings, medical kit, food items and “subversive documents,” regional military spokesman Major Rey Tiongson said.

The 3rd Scout Ranger Company troopers headed by SSgt. Rehum Magno were conducting a security patrol in Sitio Hinobaan, Barangay (village) Plagatasanon, Guihulngan City, when they encountered about 20 NPA rebels at Friday noon.

The 15-minute gun battle led to the capture of the 4 NPA members identified as Jessie Abing alias Gamay, 26, of Brgy Nasunggan, La Libertad;  Thomas Isugan alias Edel, 19, and Ricardo Ricanillo, 37, residents of Brgys. Buenavista and Linantuyan, Guihulngan City, respectively, and, Dandy Demerin, 18, of Brgy Camandag, La Castellana, Negros Occidental.

Tiongson said Army rangers were conducting community security patrol to check on the reported presence of armed groups in the place, when they were fired upon by the NPA. This prompted troopers to fire back and a firefight ensued.

The NPA rebels, however, later withdrew towards northeast and southeast directions, leaving behind their 4 comrades, he added.

Tiongson said the 4 rebels were treated humanely and apprised of their rights, while being accompanied to a safer place. They are now in jail, after they were subjected to medical examinations.

Brig. Gen Aurelio Baladad, 3ID commander, commended the troops for their professionalism and observance to human rights and rule of law.

“We intensify our Bayanihan operations and we ensure that our soldiers are more responsible, determined and focused towards the accomplishment of [their] mandated mission without violation of any law,” said Baladad.

He also acknowledged the effort of the community for reporting the presence of NPA rebels who he said are threatening civilians in the area.

The NPA has been waging a 44-year Maoist armed campaign that killed at least 30,000. The military estimates the guerrillas’ ranks at about 4,000 fighters, down from a peak of roughly 26,000 in the 1980s, reported Agence France-Presse.

Peace talks between the government and the NPA have collapsed. – Rappler.com

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