DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The New People’s Army on Wednesday said that the skirmish in Bukidnon earlier this month which resulted to the death of government soldiers was a legitimate encounter.
According to Ka Allan Juanito, spokesperson of NPA-Central Mindanao Region, the soldiers were conducting a “psywar operations” in Barangay Kibalabag and Manalog, Malaybalay City.
The February 2 clash claimed the lives of Corporals Pat O. Non and Niño Christopher Talabor and Sergeant Owen Yee, all belonging to the Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion.
Two NPA guerillas flagged down the three soldiers onboard two motorcycles in Sitio Kalib, Barangay. Kibalabag from Malaybalay City. A gun fight ensued after the soldiers pulled out their guns, forcing the NPA to open fire.
Ka Juanito said the soldiers started to encamp on Oct. 26 in Kibalabag and on Nov. 24 in Barangay Manalog. He said the Army has not yet pulled-out its units from these two barangays.
“This is contrary to what the 8th IB wanted the general public to believe that they have assigned their troops in the said barangays to deliver social services,” he said.“They even obliged the barangay councils to pass a resolution requesting their presence as protection but they refused.”
“The allegation that the three were arrested and killed after was therefore not true. That they were unarmed was also not true. As a matter of fact, three .45 pistols were seized from them. They are Armscor issues with serial numbers 2052053, bb01224 and 1435922,” he pointed out.
The NPA said that their “field units never took money from what the AFP claimed to be their subsistence allowance from the ATM.”
The communist guerillas also belied the claim of the Army that the military troops are following up resources for an ongoing project in support to the COPD in the barrio.
However, in a press conference at the Davao City Police Office on Wednesday, the Army maintained that the three soldiers killed were unarmed citing reports from their unit.
Major Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command said the soldiers were on their way from Malaybalay to Barangay Manalog “to withdraw subsistence of allowance”, wearing civilian and unarmed.
“I cannot see any encounter there. And besides, the bullet shots in their body shows vengeance and anger,” Balagtey added.
Valencia branded the recent clash between the NPA and AFP units in Bukidnon last February 3 as a form of propaganda. The clash resulted to the death of three government soldiers.
“If the situation warrants, we will use all available capability of the AFP to defeat any threat to the country. The president has already classified the CPP-NPA-NDF as terrorists,” he added. (With a report from Jason Amisola/davaotoday.com)