Affected families in recent clash of PA’s 62nd Infantry Battalion and NPA in Negros Oriental. (Photo from 62nd Infantry Battalion)

The Philippine Army (PA) is denying the New People’s Army’s (NPA) claim that 13 soldiers died after a recent clash with the rebel group in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

The NPA’s Leonardo Panaligan Command claimed that 13 government soldiers were killed in a “successful ambush” against the Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) at Sitio Batong-uang, Barangay Trinidad, Gihulngan City, Jan. 16. 

The soldiers were reportedly killed in an “explosion,” the rebels’ statement claimed. 

Maj. Cenon Pancito III, spokesperson of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), described the NPA’s claim as “false” and “baseless.”

“When they [NPA] claimed that 13 of our soldiers had died: where are the bodies?” Pancito challenged the rebels. 

Pancito said they would not hide deaths among their troops since they “take pride of death” in line of work. 

“This is the truth. If any of us is wounded or dead, every drop of blood shows our commitment in protecting the country,” the Army officer said. 

The rebels also allege that some locals were also “abducted,” which Pancito vehemently denied. 

Pancito said the encounter was government-initiated because of the “persistent atrocities experienced by the people of Gihulngan.” 

Some 30 families evacuated during the four encounters that took place in Sitio Batong-buang in Barangay Trinidad. 

The Philippine Air Force’s MG-520 helicopters conducted an airstrike to flush out the retreating rebels. – Ryan Sorote