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2 rebels killed in Negros Oriental clash on Christmas Eve

Two rebels were killed in a clash with government troopers on Christmas Eve, December 24, at Barangay Napacao, Siaton town, in this province.

Major Cenon Pancito III, public affairs office chief of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, said government forces received reports from concerned residents and barangay officials about the presence of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the area.

Solders of the 11th Infantry (Lapu-Lapu) Battalion then encountered the remnants of Southeast Front, Komiteng Rehiyon Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor (SEF,KR–NCBS) in the area around 7:25 pm on Thursday, December 24.

The troops were able to outmaneuver the rebels and successfully seized their position, Pancito said.

They also recovered two dead bodies with their firearms, a caliber 5.56mm M653 (baby armalite), and a caliber .45 pistol, he said.

Also recovered from the encounter site were allegedly subversive documents, a bandolier with two magazines of M14, a backpack with medical supplies, two backpacks with personal belongings and medical paraphernalia, he added.

The troops are still in the process of scouring the perimeter of the encounter, while the police are checking the evidence for forensic investigation.

This comes after President Rodrigo Duterte rejected the customary holiday ceasefire with communist rebels – the third time no such ceasefire was observed under his government.

The last time the warring sides observed a ceasefire was from December 23, 2019, to January 7, 2020.

Duterte, however, recently stepped up his verbal assaults against communist rebels and their perceived sympathizers, as more activists also get arrested. Government critics said this is part of Duterte’s war on dissent.

‘Unfortunate but necessary,’ says military

Lieutenant Colonel Ramir Redosendo, commanding officer of the 11th Infantry (Lapu-Lapu) Battalion, said in a statement: “We would like to thank the residents and officials of Barangay Napacao for these efforts as they provided the necessary information needed, which led to the successful engagement against the NPA. This is also brought about by the intensified peace and security operations being undertaken through the Joint Enhanced Military and Police Operation.”

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those killed communist-terrorists. This could not have happened if the leaders of this communist-terrorist organization did not deceive and offered lies to its members,” he added.

Colonel Leonardo Peña, commander of 302nd Infantry Brigade, said: “May this encounter serve as a lesson to all members of the CPP-NPAs and we reiterate our message to their remaining members just to lay down their arms and come back to the folds of the law to embrace the peace offered by the government and be reconciled with their families.”

Major General Eric Vinoya, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, said “the incident is unfortunate but necessary in protecting more of our kababayans (countrymen) from the terroristic activities of the CPP-NPA.” – Rappler.com