By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Police in the town of Ilog in Negros Occidental now have the identities of two of the four New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who were slain during last Tuesday’s gun battle at the town’s Sitio Balik-balik in Barangay Tabug.
The two slain NPA rebels were identified as Christian “Han” Vargas and Joel “Timot” Fundador.
Vargas was noted to have succumbed to his wounds while being treated at a hospital, while Fundador was declared dead-on-the-spot at the encounter site.
The remaining two NPA rebels have only been identified as Ka Nikki, a female, and Ka George.
The captured NPA leader, meanwhile, has been identified as Nilda Natan Bertulano, a secretary for the NPA’s South West Front in Negros.
Police Lt. Colonel Ryan Manongdo, commander of the 6th Philippine National Police-Special Action Force Battalion, said they have also detained 13 other people who were found in the encounter site for questioning.
However, 10 of the individuals were later freed by police after it was proven that they had no involvement in the clash.
The three remaining individuals, meanwhile, remain for further questioning and investigation as they are being suspected as newly-recruited NPA insurgents.
According to Manongdo, they responded to the area after receiving complaints from the nearby communities last Monday night of the NPA’s presence.
Following the clash, the entire force of the Philippine Army and both the Negros Occidental and Oriental police force have been placed on heightened alert.
Manongdo is also calling on the families of the remaining NPA insurgents in the area to use their influence and convince them to surrender before it is too late.
He also warned the NPA rebels that they only have two options should they continue the armed struggle, either they “end up in cemetery, or in prison.”/DGB, WDJ