Soldiers suspected by Parago restricted inside army camp

Mar. 15, 2009

Soldiers suspected by Parago restricted inside army camp

Panacan, Davao City — Two of the four soldiers suspected by Leoncio Pitao to be behind her daughters’ abduction and killing last March 4, 2009 were restricted inside camp by the commander of the 10th Infantry Division, Major General Reynaldo B Mapagu.

The two alleged suspects singled out by Pitao are Sergeant Henry Bitang and Corporal Orly Pedrigoza are both assigned with the Military Intelligence Battalion (MIB). The 10ID leadership has confirmed that the said soldiers are under its jurisdiction.

Mapagu said “We have already conducted our internal investigation and it is still on progress. Their restriction inside the camp premises will make them readily available for investigation by the PNP and other independent body if warranted”.

Meanwhile, the 10ID is continually appealing to the public to dissuade from resorting to trial by publicity in order to allow the due process to work.

Another Militant Killed

The 10ID also strongly condemns the killing of Vic Eliezer Billanes last Monday, March 9, 2009 in Koronadal City.

The said killing has also been blamed on the military. Mapagu again denied the said allegations. “We will not benefit if we will kill him; it will do no good to our organization. It will just make the situation worst considering that Rebelyn’s case is also being blamed on us.

Along with the men and women of 10ID, Mapagu expresses his sincere condolences to the family of Eliezer Billanes. He also pledged to support and assist, in any way, to fast-track the investigation of the case and be able to arrest the perpetrators.

False Accusations

Meanwhile, militant groups have also charged soldiers under the 67th Infantry Battalion of allegedly abusing local residents in Banganga, Davao Oriental and killing four civilians during the encounter last March 8, 2009 at 4:30am.

The operating troops were able to recover one M16 Rifle, one ICOM radio, combat packs, tents and subversive documents. Army troops suffered two casualties, one wounded soldier and one CAA killed contrary to the statement of New People’s Army (NPA) spokesperson Ka Simon that three soldiers were killed.

The encounter was a result of the cooperation of civilians in Barangays Batiano and Mahan-ub who reported the presence of armed insurgents in their area. The civilians also reported that the NPA carried many of their casualties while withdrawing from the encounter area.

Based from field report, the NPA threatened the populace in Baganga, Cateel, and Boston to go against the flagship project of the government to connect and pave the road from Mati, Davao Oriental to Lingig, Surigao del Sur.

The said project, when completed, is expected to boost investments in the area and will allow the rapid flow of goods and services between the two provinces.

Since March 8, the NPA has reported that the number of civilian casualties has reached 12 and has even circulated to the national media about a local media block out. Among those identified victims was the Kagutom family.

However, the said allegations were vehemently disproved by the 67IB troops and the local residents including Barangay Captains Roy Nazareno and Elso Lemundo of barangays Mahan-ub and Batiano, respectively.

“Tinu-od na adunay enkwentro pero wala may nadamay na mga sibilyan. Katong pamilya sa Kagutom buhi man, tu-a niadto sa among barangay pag enkwentro. Ako pa gani sila tiga-an ug bugas una mibalik sa Batiano (It is true that there was an encounter but no civilians were harmed. The Kagutom family is alive. They went to the barangay hall during the encounter. I even gave them rice before they went back to Batiano),” said Lemundo.

Nazareno added that none of his constituents were killed and that the Local Government Unit of Baganga along with the 67IB troops has accorded them the appropriate assistance during and after the encounter.

Meanwhile, Lt Colonel Henry Doyaoen, commander of 67th Infantry Battalion, based in Baganga the claim of vivilian casualties was clear propaganda by the CPP-NPA to discredit the AFP in general. “It is already their pattern or trend to immediately declare human rights abuses against the operating troops to advance their cause especially when the NPA anniversary comes nearer.”

“In like manner, their allegations intend to put pressure to the military to stop in its offensive operations against the NPA bandits” Doyaoen added. (10th Infantry Battalion /PIA XI)

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