The Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) has ensured the safety of residents in the far-flung Barangay Quintin Remo in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental after government troops clashed with communist rebels in the area on Wednesday afternoon.
More than 800 residents from about four sitios (hamlets) were evacuated to various areas while the soldiers were conducting clearing operations until the day after.
2nd Lt. Mary Liza Joy De Guzman, civil-military operations officer of 62IB based in neighboring Isabela town, told the Philippine News Agency that the displaced residents have started to return home on Friday.
“They were given instructions that they are now allowed to go home,” she said, adding that Mayor Ella Celestina Garcia-Yulo also wanted to make sure that the residents are already safe.
De Guzman said the residents were provided food assistance by the municipal government on Thursday and Friday, and the soldiers secured the personnel who came to distribute food packs to the people in the village.
“We assure the residents that we will keep them safe from extortion (of the communist-terrorists). Troops of 62IB, with the help of 79th Infantry Battalion, are in the area to secure them, not to harm them,” she added.
The troops launched a combat operation on Thursday afternoon after they were informed by a concerned citizen of the presence of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in the village, planning to extort and derail the construction of the farm-to-market road located in the provincial boundary on the side of Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
Two soldiers of the 79IB were killed while four others were also wounded after the troops engaged about 25 rebels in an hour-long clash in Sitio Tiyos.
In a statement, Lt. Col. Melvin Flores, commanding officer of 62IB, thanked the active participation of the residents of Barangay Quintin Remo and Barangay Trinidad in Guihulngan City in ending insurgency in their respective communities.
“The communist-terrorists planned to extort from the construction firm and regain their masses in Barangay Trinidad. Again, we are calling on the remaining members of the NPA to lay down their arms and surrender or else, the Unifier troopers will tirelessly hunt you anywhere,” he added.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.