Army says NPA fired at them
DAVAO CITY – The house of an anti-mining peasant leader was peppered with bullets allegedly by soldiers at a nearby Army detachment Sunday afternoon.
Bello Tindasan, chairman of the Compostela Farmers Association, said the incident happened 3:20pm in Sitio Mambusao, Barangay Ngan, Compostela, Compostela Valley.
“This is clearly a plot against me, to kill me, or at the minimum, to scare me not to participate anymore in the defense of our lands from the interests of Agpet (Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corporation),” he said.
In a text message, 66th IB Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert Ruiz said New People’s Army guerrillas “were positioned at the vicinity of Tindasan residence” and they “fired towards the patrol base.”
“Firefight lasted around 20 mins with no casualty [on] both sides. Pursuit operations continue in the area,” said Ruiz.
Tindasan, however, refuted Ruiz’s claims saying that the supposed exchange of gunfire could not have happened because only his family were inside the house.
Tindasan said the alleged strafing incident lasted for more than 20 minutes.
Tindasan said his house is located 80 meters from a detachment of the Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion.
“Two bullets hit our house and one hit a glass in the window. My son was wounded by a shard,” he said.
Tindasan’s wife and two-year old daughter were also in the house during the incident.
Tindasan said that at the time the incident occurred, he was out on a meeting to plan for his group’s next protest action against Agpet.
In May, CFA blocked the entry of Agpet in Sitio Mambusao.
Farmers put up barricade vs mining firm
“When we were in dialogue, their CO (commanding officer) told me not to speak anymore because he knows who I am,” said Tindasan.
CFA also said 66th IB soldiers told them to “let Agpet enter.”
Army told us to let mining company enter our area — farmer
Tindasan and the CFA again set up a protest camp in Sitio Nursery in Barangay Ngan to prevent the exploration operations of Agpet.
Farmers put-up camp to halt mining exploration in Compostela Valley
But farmers said the outcome following the series of dialogue with the police and local government officials “frustrated” them as it only resulted to ensuring that Agpet will continue with its exploration.
“It is clear that they favor Agpet. It was the 66th IB’s commander himself who showed Agpet’s men how to get inside the barricaded compound using the back entrance. I have a video of it,” said Tindasan.
Tindasan said the incident “will not break our resolve nor deter us in our position against Agpet.” (davaotoday.com)