BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The mission to kill or capture the island’s top Communist, Rogelio Posadas alias Ka Putin, looks like it started only last week in a mountain village of Isabela town and ended in a hinterland community in neighboring Binalbagan early in the mornimg of 18 April 2023.
Details of the operation against Posadas are starting to emerge, however, showing a military operation directed at the brigade level, the 303rd led by Brigadier General Orlando Edralin, and involving three line battalions – the 79th, 62nd, and 94th – that took over three months, starting on 5 February 2023 and ended in rifle units engaging guerrillas in three fronts.
It ended with three rebels dead, among them Posadas, in three separate firefights last week in Moises Padilla and Binalbagan towns, and Escalante City.
Army 94th Battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Van Donald Almonte, detailed to DNX the series of events leading to the death of Posadas whose body was found dead, sprawled on a field in the sitio (sub-village) of Cabite in Barangay (village) Santol in Binalbagan on 20 April 2023.
Almonte said the firefight on 18 April 2023 day was triggered by an initial clash between a combat unit of the 62nd Infantry Battalion in Cansalongon, a mountain barangay in Isabela town where the 62nd is also based.
Camp Gerona acting civil military officer, Captain Raymart Africa, said in a separate dispatch that the clash between combined troopers of the 94th and 62nd Battalions took place in Matabanon, a community in Camang-camang.
Almonte said Mantabanon sits on the border between Cansalongon and Camang-camang and is near Ilog town.
He added soldiers of the two battalions have been deployed to the area at least 10 days before the 18 April clash after the military were tipped off by villagers that the rebels were planning a raid on a detachment of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Casalongon.
Almonte said the first firefight was around 2am involving an estimated 20 Red fighters that broke contact after five minutes and, according to Africa, withdrew south.
A rifle unit of the 94th sent to chase the fleeimg group engaged it again minutes later in Sitio Marikodo.
After a brief firefight, the rebels broke off and withdrew further south.
The third and last firefight around 3:20am, Almonte and Africa said in separate interviews, was in Cabite, a mountain community in barangay Santol in Binalbagan town.
The rebels scattered after the Cabite clash and by daylight soldiers found a body two days later, identified by former rebels to be that of Posadas.
Almonte, however, said the hunt for Posadas started months ago after the 5 February 2023 in the mountain barangay of Oringao in Kabankalan City where three rebels werw killed.
The Army knew way back then but disclosed only now that Posadas was wounded in the back but appeared to have not been treated for a bullet fragment that hit him.