BACOLOD CITY – Two soldiers were wounded, one of them a platoon leader, and a female guerrilla, whose body was not found was killed, the Army reported, when elements of the 15th Infantry Battalion clashed with suspected rebels led by an elusive one-armed commander of the New People’s Army in Cauayan town, south of here Tuesday afternoon 21 January 2020.
Captain Cenon Pancito III, the Army’s division spokesman, said the rebels, led by Reniel Cellon alias Kumpol and Nilda Bertulano alias Gia, clashed with the government unit conducting a clearing operation in the upland sub-village of Pinamay-an, barangay Camalandaan in Cauayan town.
The 15th IB troopers were “conducting clearing operations in preparation for the implementation of the Retooled Community Support Program” of the town when “they received the information about the presence of the (rebels).”
The after-battle report said the soldiers engaged the rebels in a running gun battle that broke off after about half an hour.
Two government troopers were wounded but Pancito did not give further details though local radio stations identified them, one a lieutenant who led the platoon, and the other an enlisted man.
The fleeing rebels, the report added left behind four rifle grenades and two backpacks.
Locals told pursuing soldiers one female rebel believed to be dead was being carried by her comrades.
“The success of the combat operation is a manifestation of the effectiveness of the Whole of Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict says Lt. Col. Patricio Tomales, 15thIB commander, was quoted as saying in the 3rd Infantry Division news release.
Cauayan officials had earlier declared NPAs as persona non grata, making it one of the latest towns to declare the rebels as unwelcome.
Cellon, who goes by the nom de guerre Barry, is a native of Candoni town who was once reported to be part of a special unit of the NPA.
He was declared dead by the military at least twice over the past decade.