By Ranie S. Azue
BACOLOD City — The family of the alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) killed and injured on Jan. 25 in an “encounter” in Brgy. Panubigan, Canlaon City insists that the victims were civilians and not members of the rebel movement.
The alleged encounter resulted in the killing of Beverly Pobleo and Felix Remobata while four civilians identified as Porferio Pobleo, husband of Beverly, Jimmy Ugang and Jimmy Calago were injured after elements of the alpha company of the 11th Infantry Battalion (11thIB) strafed the house of the Pobleo family.
In a press conference arranged by militant human rights watchdog KARAPATAN-Negros, ex-army Carlito Canonicato said he knew his brother-in-law very well and insisted that he is an ordinary civilian.
According to Canonicato, Remobata, together with other neighbours from Brgy. Codcod whom he insists are farmers like his brother-in-law, went to the house of Pobleo to have a drinking binge.
The group agreed to stay overnight because it was already very late for them to go home in Brgy. Codcod, Canonicato said.
The next day, he was surprised to hear from his former buddies in the 11thIB that his brother-in-law was killed in an encounter with alleged rebels in Brgy. Panubigan.
Canonicato could not understand why it was the elements of the 11th IB who are based in Brgy. Masulog who conducted the raid on the alleged rebels in Panubigan when there is detachment of army scout rangers in the area.
He also revealed that members of the Canlaon City Police Office conducted a search on the area an hour earlier before the alleged encounter took place after they received reports that an armed group was sighted near the area which yielded negative results.
Fred Caña of KARAPATAN Negros, meanwhile, condemned the brutal strafing of the Pobleo’s house and accused the military of trying to cover-up the indiscriminate firing of a civilian and unarmed house.
Caña stressed that they will write to the national office of the Commission on Human Rights to conduct a deeper probe on the incident.
He added that the house of the Pobleo family is at the back of the gymnasium of Canlaon City which makes it impossible for armed rebels to simply go to the area and engage the army in a firefight./PN