AN ARMY official said he will provide Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano with a list of barangay officials who are allegedly supporting the New People's Army.
"Troops are being deployed in these areas to clear and to conduct the Community Support Programs (CSP), but during the deployment, troops were engaged with the NPA terrorists in Cawayan, it got me wondering why do these barangays have terrorists presence and why does the barangay officials
allowed the entry of these terrorists"," Brigadier General Eric Vinoya, commander of the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade, said.
The 403rd Brigade based in Malaybalay City operates in the hinterlands of Quezon town in Bukidnon, inlcuding Papacao, Lipa, Linabo, Sta. Felomina and Cawayan, all in Bukidnon.
Vinoya was reacting to an NPA statement saying that 4th Infantry Division's CSP is a lie and is only meant to cloak and intensify combat operations that began in January.
The NPA statement said the CSP was initiated to help state security forces go after communist rebels to pave the way for mining companies and allow plantations to expand.
In the statement issued last week, the NPA also claimed to have killed 19 soldiers in an encounter at barangay Cawayan, Quezon town, Bukidnon province last February 6, a claim denied by the Army.
Lieutenant Colonel Randy Remonte, 88th Infantry Battalion commanding officer, said the encounter only wounded 6 of their troops and did not kill 19 as claimed by the NPA.
"According to their medical records, they are all stable and recuperating at Camp Evangelista Station Hospital," Remonte said.
Major General Ronald Villanueva, 4th Infantry Division (4ID) commander, meanwhile refuted the allegations of abuse committed by troops.
"When there are abuse complaints, the 4ID will consider it a form of cleansing our ranks. It will be dealt with accordingly. Further, I want to remind everybody to know the difference of facts versus propaganda. The NPA terrorists are very desperate to inflict casualty to our troops and very desperate for support. They give false hope to the lowest element in their ranks due to the influx of surrenders in Bukidnon. Your Army, will not stop crushing them, may it be an exchange of our own lives," Villanueva said.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 11, 2018.