SEIZED. Items recovered by troopers of the 62nd Infantry Battalion following their encounter with an estimated 20 New People’s Army fighters at Sitio Santos-Santos, Barangay Quintin Remo in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental on Monday morning. (Photo courtesy of 62nd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)
BACOLOD CITY -- About 1,700 residents of Barangay Quintin Remo and neighboring villages in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental were evacuated amid the encounter between government troops and communist rebels on Monday.
Soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) encountered about 30 communist rebels, whose group is believed to be behind the murder of Moises Padilla Councilor Jolomar Hilario on Sunday.
Quintin Remo village chief Felisa Villaflor said in a radio interview on Tuesday that some 900 residents from four sitios stayed overnight at the Guinpanaan National High School-Mamballo Extension.
They were mostly residents of Sitio Santos-Santos, where the encounter took place.
Those who evacuated in Barangay Montilla numbered about 500 individuals and in Barangay Guinpana-an, 240 persons.
Villaflor earlier said the municipal government has provided food and water supply to the evacuees.
Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, said he has directed the troops to complete the clearing operation so that the residents can return home by Tuesday.
“We don’t want them to be inconvenienced. Within the day, they are expected to return home,” he added.
The encounter took place Monday morning for about an hour in Sitio Santos-Santos when government troops were conducting pursuit operation.
During the exchange of gunfire that lasted until 10:30 a.m., one of the soldiers, Corporal Ryan Quevedo, was slightly wounded.
Soldiers recovered several rounds of ammunition, anti-personnel mines, and personal belongings, among others.
On Sunday, Hilario, 51, was gunned down by men, who identified themselves as members of the New People’s Army (NPA), inside his home in Barangay Inolingan at about 6 a.m.
The victim was asleep when about 50 armed men on board a truck arrived in front of the Hilario residence. Those who entered the house shot the town official. (PNA)