CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, PILI, CAMARINES SUR—Army spokesperson Major Christopher Morales of the 9th Infantry Battalion in Bicol blasted Monday the “news advisory” sent through email to media outlets that five Army men were killed by the New People’s Army (NPA) in a daring seaborne ambush, supposedly in “North Coastal” of Lagonoy town on March 27”.
“The story should have already been out in the mainstream media at this moment, if assuming something happened like that,” Morales commented and he went on to say that it is a sweeping propaganda aimed at putting doubt on the capability of the Army. “Where are the bodies? Why didn’t people hear the firefight?” he added.
The emailed “news advisory”, dated on the same date of the seaborne ambush was supposedly sent by an NPA commander with certain name of Baldemoro Archangel, spokesperson of Tomas Pilapil Command of the NPA in Camarines Sur’s third district.
Morales added the NPA is just making a political statement that would put the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the bad light.
He said the military establishment encourages the filing of cases against erring members of the AFP and that they would cooperate with investigating body to probe the imputation against any soldier and officer, including alleged human rights violation.
Raising alarm on five deaths attributed to military operations from February to March, the National Democratic Front (NDF)-Bicol links the incidents of killing to the clearing operation of the AFP in preparation to the RP-US Balikatan Exercises in Bicol planned staged in April.
Ka Greg Bañares, spokesperson of NDF-Bicol, enumerated five civilians killed in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Albay and Catanduanes in the course of military clearing operations involving members of Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) with a 16-month-old baby the youngest victim.
According to Morales it was the NPA’s bullets that killed the baby. Their investigation team found out that the NPA were holding meeting it Balanac when the Army soldiers arrived. “Our soldiers did not even fire a shot and when the rebels scampered to flee they indiscriminately fired which resulted to civilian casualty,” he added.
Bañares also accused the Army soldiers and Cafgu members together with the mayor of Presentacion, Jaime Deleña, of firing at the hapless fishermen suspected of fishing illegally in San Jose, Camarines Sur that killed Domingo Bardado and seriously wouding William Arroyo.
In this particular incident, Morales said it was Deleña and Task Force Kalikasan who requested assistance from Army. He said the fishermen charged at the apprehending authorities and fired shots which made the Cafgu members retaliate by firing at the fleeing fishermen.(Bicol Mail)