By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Two alleged insurgents of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed after engaging in a gun battle with the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion (79IB) at Barangay Canlusong in Negros Occidental’s E.B. Magalona town late Tuesday afternoon, October 17.
The fatalities were identified as 30-year-old Christian Job Vargas, a resident of the said village; and live-in partner, 31-year-old Mylene Salgado of Himamaylan City’s Barangay Buenavista.
Lt. Colonel Jjay Javines, 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) spokesperson, said the 79IB received reports that the alleged NPA rebels were extorting from the locals at Sitio Nabalas Dos.
The 79IB responded to the site and encountered the alleged nine-member NPA fighters.
The gun battle ensued for 15 minutes until the NPA fled the area.
No one was wounded among the government forces.
The 79IB recovered six firearms — three M16 rifles, an M14 rifle, an AR15 assault rifle, and an M1 Garand — from the encounter site.
Also recovered were assorted live ammunition, four rifle grenades, personal belongings, and subversive documents.
A pursuit operation is ongoing.
Javines said they believe that the alleged NPA members they encountered were members of the Northern Negros Front’s Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor.
The remains of the slain rebels have since been handed over to their families.
They denied that their slain kin were communist insurgents.
Meanwhile, 3ID commander Major General Marion Sison, in a statement, said the NPA failed to regain influence in Barangay Canlusong, as the locals themselves had already rejected them.
“They no longer want [NPA] manipulating the people in their communities. Clearly, the people have chosen to live in peace and made a stand to end local armed conflict,” Sison said.
Records from the E.B. Magalona police revealed that Vargas and Salgado have a warrant of arrest for attempted murder issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 56 in Himamaylan.
Multiple arrest warrants for murder were issued against Vargas with no recommended bail from RTC Branch 61 in Kabankalan City./With reports from PNA / DGB, WDJ