The military is validating persistent reports that New People’s Army rebels operating in the hinterlands of the southern portion of Guihulngan were among the victims of landslides from the recent magnitude 6.9 earthquake.
Col. Francisco Patrimonio, 302nd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday said the details vary as to the number of NPAs that had been allegedly buried by the landslide in Brgy. Planas, a known rebel lair in Guihulngan City.
Patrimonio claimed there is a “zero report on NPA sightings”, almost three weeks after the landslide in the place where a platoon-sized NPA unit, composed of about 20 to 30 men regularly operates.
The fact that there was no sighting of armed rebels means that something is not normal in the area, Patrimonio said.
Members of some groups alleged to be allies of the NPA were monitored by the military to have visited the quake-affected areas in Brgy. Planas, Guihulngan, and engaged in search and retrieval operations as well as the distribution of goods to affected residents.
Patrimonio said they have resumed security patrols that had been previously suspended to pave the way for search, retrieval and relief operations in central Negros.
This was after the 302nd Infantry Brigade and 11th Infantry Battalion terminated their search and retrieval operations in the quake-affected areas of Guihulngan and La Libertad, that was concurred in by their local government officials, and relatives of the missing victims.
Hopes diminished for survivors but the families of missing persons still hope to, at least, recover the bodies of their loved ones and give them decent burials.
The Sangguniang Panlungsod of Guihulngan has declared the Planas landslide area as a memorial site for those who died there.
Patrimonio, however, said that they are sustaining their relief assistance mission for providing manpower and will still transport relief goods to the quake victims.
Meanwhile, Colonel Abraham Bagasin, commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, commended Lt. Col. Ariel Felicidario, outgoing commanding officer of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion, and his men, for their participation in the search and retrieval operations in Negros Oriental.*GPB
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