THE 4th Infantry Division (4ID) Friday, February 4, described the killing of three soldiers by the New People's Army on Wednesday, February 1, at Sitio Kaleb, Barangay Kibalabag, Malaybalay, Bukidnon as "overkill."
In a statement, the 4ID said the soldiers, who were in civilian clothes and unarmed, sustained 24 gunshot wounds each based from a report of the police Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) in Malaybalay City.
The soldiers were identified as Corporal Owen Yee, Private First Class (PFC) Pat Non, and PFC Niño Christopher Talabor of the 8th Infantry Battalion.
The investigation also showed that the rebels were firing from high-ground and later went near the three soldiers to "finish them off," considering that the bulk of the rounds were found near the dead bodies of the soldiers.
Also, recovered near the killed soldiers are 21-Fired Cartridge Cases (FCC) of 5.56 mm (for M16 rifle), 1-5.56 mm cartridge, 7-7.62x 51mm FCC (for M14), 10-7.62x 39mm FCC (for AK47), 2-7.62x39mm cartridges (for AK47), 5-7.62x63mm FCCs (for Garand), and 1-Cal 30 FCCs (for Carbine).
The NPA claimed that the soldiers were allegedly armed and showed resistance when they were flagged down, leaving them no choice but to shoot and kill them.
Colonel Eric Vinoya, the Army's 403rd Brigade Commander, said the soldiers only left the barangay proper because they needed to secure documents for a livelihood project they facilitated to get their subsistence allowances.
"Unfortunately, they were flagged down and murdered by armed men as they were about to go back to the community. They were in civilian attire and unarmed when they were slain. This act perpetrated by the NPA only shows that they are not fighting for an ideology anymore. They have resorted to criminal acts and banditry the moment that they murdered our troops and took their money and personal belongings," Vinoya said.
READ: NPA rebels kill 3 soldiers in Bukidnon
Major General Benjamin Madrigal Jr., 4ID commander lambasted the killing, which he called was a "barbaric act."
"How can these NPA say that they also want peace if they still continue to kill with impunity, continue to burn construction and production equipment, and kill innocent people? If they really want peace, then they must lay down their arms and start working with the whole nation on the solutions of these socio-economic problems. They must show sincerity and finally end their violence for the benefit of every Filipino," Madrigal said.
Madrigal added that the incident will not keep them from carrying out their mandate to secure communities of the people against any threat.
Madrigal warned that "the full force of law will be implemented until justice is served to the soldiers."