TALAKAG, Bukidnon, Philippines — Two communist rebels and a soldier of the Army’s elite Special Forces Battalion were killed after a four-hour clash inside a military reservation in Barangay San Rafael, Talakag town, Bukidnon last Saturday, March 20.
Another Army soldier was wounded and brought to the Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City, according to Lt. Judy Magsayo, civil-military operations officer of the 1st Special Forces Battalion.
Magsayo said the soldier died upon arrival at a hospital in Cagayan de Oro City, some 59 kilometers from the encounter site.
She did not provide the identities of the fatalities pending the notification of their kin.
Meanwhile, Dimdim Arnado, a Higaonon villager in Talakag, identified one of the dead rebels as her cousin Paragas Saparo Hoyaman, 21, after viewing the body at a funeral parlor in Talakag town on Sunday.
Arnado said Hoyaman left their family in Barangay Rogongon of Iligan City three years ago.
“We never heard of him in the last three years. We heard stories that he had join the New People’s Army,” Arnado said in the vernacular.
Army spokesperson Maj. Rodolfo Cordero Jr., said soldiers of the 1st Special Forces Battalion clashed with some 70 communist rebels at the hinterlands of Sitio Kimutya, Barangay San Rafael at around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.
The encounter site lies within the 42,000-hectare Mt. Kibaritan military reservation that straddles the towns of Kalilangan and Talakag in Bukidnon and Wao town in Lanao del Sur.
Cordero said the soldiers recovered two M16 rifles, three AK47 magazines, five combat packs, and an improvised explosive devise.
He said the troops are hunting the rest of the NPA band who have quickly withdrawn to the forests.
Barangay San Rafael chair Puyat Sagayan said the fighting occurred when most of the village farmers were out on their field harvesting corn.
“Our farmers ran back to the village when they heard the explosions. Everyone was scared,” Sagayan said.
He said many of the farmers in their haste to flee, left behind their sacks of harvested corn in the fields.
Sagayan said the entire village watched as two Air Force choppers fired rockets at 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 village watchmen who brought the body to the barangay hall.
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