TAGUM CITY — Government troops tagged the farmer who was caught by the Army’s 2nd Special Forces Battalion (Airborne) as a member of Front Committee 21 of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee.

In a statement Wednesday, 1Lt Karl Jan S Devaras, commander of the 41st Civil Military Operations (Magkahiusa) Company based in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, said government forces have rescued a man who was profusely bleeding at the vicinity of Sitio Baroboan, Barangay Carromata, San Miguel town after a 15-minute clash with the communist rebels.

“Our troops found a wounded male left by his comrades to die in a vegetated area just a kilometer away from the encounter site,” Devaras said.

He did not disclose the identity of the man who he said found in a “vegetated area just a kilometer away from the encounter site.”

“After the said firefight, government troops immediately cleared the encounter area and discovered several blood stains thereat,” he added.

He said the military “immediately applied first aid” to the wounded man who he also disclosed was “positively identified” by his former comrades who had surrendered earlier to the authorities.”

According to Devaras, the wounded farmer was rushed to the nearest hospital in Tandag City for immediate medical attention.

But Kasalo, a lumad organization based in Surigao del Sur, disputes the claim of the military, saying the farmer was a civilian and has no ties with the communist rebels.

The farmer was identified as Benjie dela Peña, 25 who was, according to the group, strafed by elements of the 2nd Special Forces of the Philippine Army.”

Kasalo spokesperson Josephine Pagalan maintained that dela Peña was not a member of the New People’s Army. She scored the military of using “coercion” and “intimidation”  to force the farmer to admit that he is one of the rebels.

“Gilangan-langan pa sila bisag naa nay ambulansya. Sige pa sila’g gi-interrogate, gi-imbestiga ug si Benjie paangkonon nga NPA (even if there was an ambulance waiting for the victim, they were still held for interrogation and investigation and Benjie was forced to admit that he was an NPA),” Pagalan told DavaoToday in an earlier interview. (davaotoday.com)

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