TALAKAG, Bukidnon (MindaNews / 21 March) — Two alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and a soldier of the elite 1st Special Battalion were killed after a four-hour clash inside the 42,000-hectare Kibaritan military reservation in Barangay San Rafael on Saturday.
Another Army soldier was wounded and brought to the Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Cagayan de Oro, according to Lt. Judy Magsayo, 1st Special Battalion civil military officer.
Magsayo said the soldier died on the way to a hospital in Cagayan de Oro some 59 kilometers north from Barangay San Rafael. The names of the slain and wounded soldiers were withheld pending notification of their kin.
One of the slain rebels was Paragas Saparo Hoyman, 21. He was identified in a funderal home in Talakag by his cousin, Dimdim Arnado.
Arnado said Hoyaman left their family in Barangay Rogongon in Iligan City three years ago.
“We never heard of him in the last three years. We heard stories that he had joined the New People’s Army,” Arnado said.
Army spokesperson Major Rodolfo Cordero `Jr., said soldiers of the 1st Special Battalion clashed with some 70 communist rebels at the hinterlands of Sitio Kimutya, Barangay San Rafael at around 9:30am Saturday.
The encounter site lies within the 42,000-hectare Mt. Kibaritan that straddles the towns of Kalilangan and Talakag in Bukidnon and Wao in Lanao del Sur.
Cordero said the soldiers recovered two M16 rifles, three AK47 magazines, five combat packs and an improvised explosive device.
He said the troops are hunting the rest of the NPA band who withdrew to the forests.
Barangay San Rafael chair Puyat Sagayan said the fighting occurred when most of the village farmers were out on the field harvesting corn.
“Our farmers ran back to the village when they heard the explosions. Everyone was scared,” Sagayan told Mindanews.
He said many of the farmers in their haste to flee, left behind their sacks of harvested corn.
Sagayan said the entire village watched as two Air Force helicopters fired rockets at the suspected NPA positions.
“We never saw anything like this in our entire lives,” he narrated.
Sagayan said later that evening, the soldiers came to ask their help in carrying the bodies of the dead rebels.
He said he sent two tanods who brought the body to the barangay hall in San Rafael at 9 p.m. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)