2 NPA members arrested after clash in northern Negros

BACOLOD CITY — Two members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) were arrested following the encounter between government troops and communist rebels on Tuesday morning in Barangay Old Poblacion in Escalante City, Negros Occidental.

In a report, the Philippine Army identified those captured as Jomar “Mari” Agustin, a resident of Barangay Salamangca, Toboso town; and Revely “Tara” Tayab, who hails from Barangay Bago, Don Salvador Benedicto.

Lt Col. Emelito Thaddeus Logan, commanding officer of 79th Infantry Battalion, said the troops endorsed the two to the custody of the Escalante City Police Station.

They found in Agustin’s possession a .45-caliber pistol with three bullets while Tayab yielded another .45-caliber pistol with five bullets along with a bandoleer and a hammock.

According to the police, Agustin is a member of Special Partisan Unit or SPARU of the NPA’s Northern Negros Front. He is facing a murder case for killing a police officer and another person in front of Escalante City Shopping Center in 2013.

The Philippine Army reported that the troops of 79IB encountered seven communist rebels during a combat operation in Sitio Maitom, Barangay Old Poblacion past 8 a.m.

The NPA fighters withdrew after a 10-minute firefight, but the troops chanced upon the two rebels and arrested them.

After the clash, about 100 residents were evacuated to the barangay hall of Old Poblacion.

Logan said the encounter led to the withdrawal of the rebels and prevented a possible attack aimed to disrupt the upcoming three-day Peace Summit in northern Negros.

“I am commending the local residents for giving us accurate information on the movement and whereabouts of the communist-terrorists,” he added.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.