At least 553 individuals have fled their homes while high-powered weapons have been recovered as fresh clashes took place between the Philippine Army's 94th Infantry Battalion (IB) and New People's Army (NPA) rebels in the hinterlands of Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental Thursday night. In a statement on Friday, Brig. Gen. Orlando Edralin, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde), said the soldiers engaged about 15 fighters of Sentro De Grabidad Platoon (SDG) of Central Negros 2 after they were spotted asking for medicines for their comrades wounded during a clash last week in adjacent Barangay Hilamonan, Himamaylan City. 'Operating troops of 94IB were conducting combat operation in response to the information about the presence of armed men,' he added. The firefight, which took place around 6 p.m. in Sitio Dangalon, Barangay Hilamonan, lasted for about 20 minutes. According to the 303IBde report, the rebels were believed to have lost at least two of their comrades "based on heavy bloodstains found on the encounter site." During the clearing operation, troops recovered an M16 rifle, an M4 rifle, two magazines for M16, 11 rounds of 5.56mm live ammunition, a bandolier, a backpack, and personal belongings. 'The capture of the high-powered firearms will surely reduce the capacity and weaken the capability of the communist-terrorists to stage terroristic activities in Negros Occidental," Edralin said. Lt. Col. Van Donald Almonte, commander of 94IB, acknowledged the locals for providing information and village officials for their vigilance and cooperation. On Thursday night, Mayor Benjie Miranda posted on his Facebook page his visit to the families staying at Barangay Hilamonan gymnasium while on Friday, he also showed a live video of residents leaving their homes under his supervision. Data from the Philippine Army as of Friday noon showed there are 15 individuals from three families staying at the Barangay Hall of Buenavista; 136 individuals from 24 families, Paloypoy Integrated School; 170 individuals from 34 families, Paloypoy Church; and 232 individuals from 61 families, Barangay Hilamonan Gymnasium. All internally displaced persons have been provided food packs by the City Social Welfare and Development Office of their local government units. On May 3, an encounter took place in the area of Sitio Paloypoy-Daku and Sitio Ulo-Tuburan, Barangay Buenavista, resulting in the death of NPA rebel Crispin Tingal, 36, and a resident of Sitio Dangalon, Barangay Hilamonan.
Source: Philippines News Agency