CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—The communist New People’s Army defended its recent Malaybalay City operation that resulted in the killing of three unarmed army troopers in civilian clothes, which the military condemned as a violation of international humanitarian law.
The NPA’s North Central Mindanao Command issued the justification on Tuesday, a day after National Democratic Front negotiator Luis Jalandoni claimed the killings may have been contrived by the military in order to blame communist insurgents.
The military, however, dismissed Jalandoni’s claim as an outright lie because the day after the three troopers were killed, the NPA North Central Mindanao Command already admitted that the three soldiers were killed at an NPA “checkpoint.”
The admission was made by NCMR spokesperson Allan Juanito, who claimed the soldiers —Corporal Pat O. Non, Corporal Nino Christopher Talabor and Sargeant Owen Yee, all from the 8th IB—were killed because they were conducting “psychological warfare” among the residents of the area.
“As opposed to what the 8th [Infantry Battalion] wanted to paint that they are bringing services to the [Barangay Kibalabag], what they brought were vices, gambling and inappropriate film showing, and brainwashed the community,” Juanito said.
Juanito added that the 8th IB forced the barangay council to sign a resolution asking the 8th IB to stay in their communities for their protection, but the council rejected it.
He said the 8th IB’s Community Organizing for Peace and Development involves interrogations, locations of NPA camps and use of civilians as guides.
Juanito also denied claims that the NPA took the money of the soldiers. “The NPA did not take the wallets of the soldiers except for the .45 caliber pistols,” Juanito said.
“We are saddened by the incident, this took place as the peace negotiation with the government of President Rodrigo Duterte was ongoing, but right at the start, the AFP-PNP-CAFGU has violated by entering areas under the revolutionary movement,” Juanito said.
Meanwhile, the army’s 4th ID chided Jalandoni for his libelous accusation against the AFP during his interview with GMA Network, saying that the death of the three soldiers in Bukidnon was a rubout.
Jalandoni had said that there was a possibility that the military are the ones who shot them “because we still have no report from the NPA. We have to see this. It is never a policy of the NPA to waste several bullets in an encounter. It can be a rubout done by the military to put the blame to the NPA. Because we have to see that the NPA has established a good reputation to our people in different communities),” Jalandoni was quoted saying.
“On the contrary, it can be noted that the day after the killing of the three soldiers, Allan Juanito, the NPA spokesperson for the Northcentral Mindanao Region, called up the media and owned up to the said killing saying that ‘the soldiers were on board two motorcycles when they were flagged down by the NPA in Sitio Kalib, Barangay Kibalabag in Malaybalay, at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday [Feb 1],” Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the 4th ID said.
“Juanito further averred that ‘the soldiers tried to fight back, pulling out their firearms, but the NPA shot at them first to defend themselves resulting in their [the soldiers’] deaths’. The said statement can also be seen in both local and national broadsheets and heard over the local radio stations,” Martinez added.
“Jalandoni’s accusations has added more injury to the pains and sufferings of the families and loved ones of our three soldiers. In an attempt to hide the barbarism of their armed wing and to deceive everyone about the incident, Jalandoni accused the AFP over killing our own troops.” said 4ID commander Maj. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr.