Philippine National Police Chief, Police General Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar has lauded the PNP Special Action Force commandos for “a well-coordinated strike against the New People’s Army, in coordination with other police units and Philippine Army,” that led to the neutralization of two top rebel leaders in Negros Island.
The joint operations of the 6th Special Action Battalion, Regional Mobile Force Battalion 6, 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company and the 15th Infantry Battalion on Sept. 14 in Sitio Balik-Balik, Brgy. Tabu, Ilog, Negros Occidental, led to the killing of four communist rebels, including Christian Vargas, commander of the NPA operating in southern Negros.
Also captured were Nilda Natan Bertulano, secretary of South West Front of Komiteng Rehiyonal- Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siquijor, a certain Ka Cris, and Jovel Mabayog, according to Lt. Col. Ryan Manongdo, commander of the 6th Special Action Battalion.
The hour-long gunbattle also led to the recovery of three M16 assault rifles, one of which is equipped with M203 grenade launcher, AK 47 assault rifle, several magazines containing ammunition, two 40mm explosives, a hand-held radio, a cellular phone, hammocks and back packs, rom the encounter site.
Aside from Vargas, a suspected rebel identified as Joel Fundador, alias Timot, was also killed while the identities of the two other slain NPAs have yet to be established, Manongdo said.
He added that they responded to information relayed to them by civilians on the presence of armed rebels in their community, who are recruiting new members.
Manongdo said that the 10 individuals, whom they invited for questioning because of their presence at the encounter, were released after they found out that they have no participation in the gunbattle.
With the neutralization of two top NPA leaders in southern Negros, Manongdo said there is now a vacuum of leadership at the South West Front.
Last month, Kerima Lorena Tariman, secretary of the KR-NCBS Northern Negros Front, also died in an encounter with 79th Infantry Battalion soldiers in Brgy. Kapitan Ramon, Silay City. — GB