HUMAN rights group Barug Katungod Mindanao said the alleged New People's Army (NPA) killed in a supposed encounter with government troops were farmers, not rebels.
The group said the 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army has carried out "vicious military operations" since January 24 at Kilometer 16, Barangay Diagaton in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur, leading to the killing of Caraga farmers Emel Tejero and Randel Gallego.
Tejer and Gallego were civilians, unarmed, and were hauling Abaca hemp to Kilometer 30 in Barangay Buhisan in neighboring San Agustin.
The two, together with 4 other farmer companions, were on their way home when they were waylaid by the government troops without any provocation.
"Aside from Tejero and Gallego, two other fellow farmers were able to elude the bullets. Another two farmers, without formal charges, were hogtied and illegally detained by the soldiers. They were released only the following day," the group said.
Tejero and Gallego went missing which triggered a search by their worried families and fellow farmers. The family and community have reported that they have been found dead in the hands of the 36th IB, PA who brought the corpses to Sitio Neptune also in Brgy. Diatagon in Lianga.
"The killing of Tejero and Gallego are merely a part of the series of atrocities sown by the armed forces whose relentless military operations have forcibly displaced hundreds of Lumads and farmers in Surigao del Sur since late December last year," the group adds.
Police on Wednesday sponsored a burial for the suspected NPA rebels.