BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Hundreds of villagers in upland communities in Kabankalan, a first-class city at least 100 kilometers south of here, have returned to their homes today, 6 February 2023, after two days of fighting over the weekend between soldiers of the 94th Battalion and armed guerrillas of the New People’s Army that also left three rebels dead.
Randy Siason, acting Kabankalan administrator, told DNX noontime today that they have assisted most of the more than 800 residents to return to their homes in Oringao village where two clashes took place, the first on Saturday, around 5pm on 4 February 2023, the second on Sunday, 5 February, near 7am.
Camp Gerona had also reported today the villagers who fled their homes came from upland communities called here as sitios – from Mananawin, Pag-imuhan, Nabalikan, Hinapunan, and Pitgong.
These communities surround another sub-village, Mugni (earlier reported by the Army as Bugne), that borders Oringao with Carol-an, another mountain village.
Government units, the 94th Battalion, and civic groups also swung into action today to assist the evacuees who took temporary shelter at the covered court in the Oringao proper.
Sixth District Representative Mercedes Alvarez, Kabankalan Mayor Benjie Miranda, several non profits including the Kabankalan Eagles Club and JIC CHICKS UNITED gave food packs and meals to 283 resodents or more than 800 families affected by the fighting, data from the Kabankalan Social Welfare Office.
The 303rd Brigade also confirmed today in an after battle report from Captain Mervin Rosal that soldiers clearing the encounter site in Mugni found three dead rebels left behind by the fleeing rebels who “scampered in differemt directions” after sensing the “overpowering firepower” of the soldiers, a separate release from Camp Gerona said.
Soldiers also seized an M14 battle rifle and several handguns from the actual clash site, a woody portion of Mugni, 94th Battalion chief, Lieutenant Colonel Von Donald Almonte told DNX.
The uplands of Kabankalan have repeatedly seen combat between soldiers and rebels since last year with the 94th scoring a major kill when its troopers clashed with a rebel unit, killing two of them, one Ericson Acosta, a deputy secretary of the four-region committee for Nehros, Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor based here.
Acosta was deployed here by national organs of the CPP to fill up the void left by the arrest of Frank Fernandez and his wife, Cleofe Lagtapon, and amid Party infighting among Negrense and Bisaya cadres caused by the consolidation of the regional leadership in Negros, sources told DNX.