DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Human rights group Karapatan and police here reported conflicting information over the killing of activist Bernardo Clarion Jr.

While Karapatan claimed that Bernardo was found dead at Barangay Callawa in Buhangin district on December 9, police came up with a report that showed the victim was found lifeless in another area.

Bernardo died in a shooting incident at Purok 4-A, Barangay Pangyan, according to a report from Police Station 10 in Calinan District.

NPA wanting to surrender?

Also, it said that the Sulung Kultura member was allegedly a “known member” of the Special Partisan Unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) who was “about to surrender to authorities.”

He wanted to surrender to authorities, but the plan “might have reached his comrades,” police said.

Police also said Bernardo’s body was found in an area “adjacent to” the residence of Jimboy Aposacas at Barangay Pangyan in Calinan, where a shooting incident was heard by a resident.

There, they recovered eight pieces of 5.56 fired cartridge cases, a sling bag containing a barangay identification card of Bengie Martos Clarion and a unit of Gloc 17 9mm pistol.

Karapatan: ‘Bernardo visited a friend’

But Jay Apiag, Karapatan’s spokesperson in Southern Mindanao region, denied accusations that the activist was an NPA member.

Based on a fact-finding mission they conducted December 11, Apiag reportedly was told by Lolita Clarion, Bernardo’s mother, that her two sons “have gone to their friend’s house (at) Barangay Pangyan.”

However, on the next day, the family of her sons’ friends informed her that Bernardo’s body was found lifeless. The victim’s brother, Bengie, was missing as of December 11.

The group also accused the military of being responsible for the killing of Bernardo as part of the “crackdown” against members of progressive organizations.

Brother dies?

On December 11, Brigada News Davao reported that Bernardo’s brother, Bengie was found dead at Barangay Mandug in Buhangin. The centers of the Barangay Callawa and Barangay Mandug hold a distance of 11 kilometers via Callawa-Mandug road.

The same report cited Mrs. Clarion, who said that Bengie was the suspect behind the killing of PO3 Wilfredo Garol.

Word war

While police have not yet confirmed this, it took a swipe at Apiag, saying his group “appears that they have knowledge in the killing of Bernard Clarion alias Manoy/Longlong.”

Police Regional Office 11 Director Manuel Gaerlan said Karapatan “should substantiate their claim” that the military was allegedly involved in the killing.

“They are now also considered persons of interest in the murder of PO3 Wilfredo Garol,” he said.

Gaerlan said the gun recovered by the Calinan police was owned by Garol, who was killed by alleged members of the NPA last month.

He also called on all witnesses to surface “so that cases can be filed against the suspects.”

Meanwhile, Apiag said the police’s statement that Bernardo is a member of “both Karapatan and the NPA are malicious and far-fetched.” (davaotoday.com)

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