A clash on Wednesday, November 3, between government troops and New People’s Army rebels in Moises Padilla town, Negros Occidental forced 800 residents to flee their homes, according to Mayor Ella Garcia-Yulo.
In an interview on Thursday, November 4, Garcia-Yulo, said town records show 100 families were evacuated to Nacuruhan Elementary School, 29 families to Binataan Elementary School, 13 families to Oway-Oway Church, and three families to Santos-Santos Center – all in Barangay Quintin Remo.
The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division also released a statement on November 4, saying it launched combat operations in Sitio Tiyos, Barangay Quintin Remo after the residents reported the presence of rebels in the area.
“The encounter resulted in two soldiers’ death and the wounding of four others who are now in stable condition. They were immediately evacuated to Visayas Command by Black Hawk Helicopters of the Philippine Air Force,” said division commander Major General Benedict Arevalo.
The Army said the rebel group, estimated at 25 fighters, also suffered major losses in an hour of fighting.
“They were seen by engaged soldiers dragging away their at least four comrades. Heavy blood stains were seen on their withdrawal route as pursuing units,” the statement said.
Mayor Garcia-Yulo said that the municipal and the provincial governments have already sent out food packs to the displaced families.
She said they were initially barred from sending assistance to the evacuation areas by the Army as pursuit operations against the fleeing rebels were still ongoing, but local officials negotiated to deliver urgent food needs of residents..
The mayor said they will wait for the Army’s advice to ensure that residents safely return to their homes.
The Army said soldiers recovered three backpacks, two cellphones, ammunition, four cooking pots, personal belongings, and other supplies from the encounter site.
Its statement claimed the NPA in Moises Padilla “aims to stage attack(s), conduct their extortion scheme and regain their masses in the area.”
One target, it added, was ongoing work at the Hilaitan-Trinidad farm to market road in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental. The town of Moises Padilla is near the border with Negros Oriental and interior roads allowing residents to easily cross from the two provinces of Negros Island. – Rappler.com