By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
An alleged member of the New People’s Army (NPA) killed in a series of gun battles in central Negros over the weekend has been identified.
Authorities have identified the fatality as Joel Blasco, a member of the NPA’s Central Negros Front 1.
His remains were positively identified by his family.
Lt. Colonel William Pesase, 62nd Infantry Battalion (62IB) commander, said Blasco had been involved in several extortion activities in the locality.
Based on information from 62IB, the initial gun battle took place at Barangay Imelda in Negros Oriental’s Guihulngan City at 5:45 a.m. on Saturday, August 5.
The 62IB responded after receiving complaints from local residents that some NPA members were forcefully extorting them.
A 10-minute gun battle ensued between the government forces and the eight-member NPA group, which later retreated.
A loaded .45 caliber pistol and two backpacks were recovered at the encounter site.
They continued to pursue the three fleeing NPA members until they reached Barangay Quintin Remo’s Sitio Cansimba in Negros Occidental’s Moises Padilla town, when another gun battle occurred.
Blasco was killed in the gun battle, while the two others escaped.
Authorities recovered a .38 caliber revolver, a fragmentation grenade, and personal belongings from the encounter site.
Meanwhile, Brigadier General Orlando Edralin of the 303rd Infantry Brigade said the Philippine Army in Negros, together with the Philippine National Police, will continue to uphold the law and protect the people against those who refuse to abide by it.
Edralin has again called on the remaining and wounded NPA members to lay down their arms and go back to the folds of the law.
“We will tirelessly hunt them, surrender now, or suffer the worst,” Edralin said./DGB, WDJ