AT LEAST 14 suspected armed men were killed by authorities in its second Oplan Sauron in the first district of Negros Oriental that started on Thursday, March 28.
Police Regional Office 7 Brigadier General Debold Sinas said police conducted 37 search warrants against noted criminals including suspected New People’s Army supporters.
Sinas said those who died fought it out with authorities.
But the Leonardo Panaligan Command of the New People’s Army (LPC-NPA) in Negros Oriental said in a statement that eight of those who died are farmers from Canlaon City, Negros Oriental.
The eight were killed on Saturday March 30, allegedly after a military operation by the 94th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, Philppine National Police-Canlaon and Special Action Forces, the statement added.
Those killed were identified as Steve Arapoc, Manulo Martin, Sonny Palagtiw both residents of Barangay Pansiao, Manjuyod and Eric Acabal from barangay Kandabong, Manjuyod.
Others killed were siblings Edgardo and Esmael Avelino, from Barangay Panubigan, Canlaon City, Rogelio Recomono and Ricky Recomono from Masulog, Canlaon, Genes Palmares, from Barangay Aquino, Canlaon, Gonzalo Rosales from barangay Pula, Canlaon, Melchor Pañares, from Bayog Canlaon, and Mario Pañares, from Bayog, Canalaon; Ano Enojo Rapada, from San Pedro Sta. Catalina and Franklin Lariosa from Talalak, Sta Catalina.
Authorities also arrested 12 personalities while two others managed to escape.
According to Sinas those who died fought it out with police when the search warrants were served. A member of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 7 identified as Corporal Ian Puerto was even hurt as a result of an exchange of gunfire. Puerto reportedly suffered leg and foot injuries and a slug on his leg is still to be taken out.
Police believed members of the Special Partisan Unit (Sparu) of the NPA were killed because of the materials they recovered including a 36 caliber handgun, a shot gun, grenade, ammunition of a grenade launcher, subversive documents of the NPA from one of their targets.
The suspect allegedly was residing near Canlaon’s police station where they also recovered a list containing names of policemen they plan to kill.
“Nanukol ni sila tanan, mao na among katingala kay basin kadtong last Sauron namo basin naay instruction sa ilaha nga kung mang raid ang police panukol gyud mo, we believe they are really hard core diha,” Sinas said.
The LPC-NPA Negros claimed those who died were innocent civilians.
JB Regalado, spokesperson of the LPC-NPA Central Negros Guerilla Front, said the Avelino brothers were farmers and Esmael is reportedly a leader of the farmers group Kahugpungpungan sa Gagmay’ng Mag-uuma sa Oriental Negros (Kaugmaon) Canlaon City chapter, while father and son Rogelio and Ricky Recomono, are farmers from Barangay Panubigan.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines in a statement sent Saturday afternoon, said the killings were “unacceptable” and cited information that 10 uniformed men allegedly entered the house of Edgardo Avelino around 12 midnight, March 30, and announced that it will serve a search warrant. They however failed to show a document.
Avelino’s wife allegedly said the uniformed men then started shooting them.
Sinas, meanwhile said they expect that the NPA will launch its counter offensives because of their extensive Oplan Sauron. But he added the police is ready.
Police who were augmented in Negros Oriental will remain in the area until further notice from their head units.
He said the police and the Central Command (Centcom) in Central Visayas is also ready in any NPA attack as it celebrates its 50th founding anniversary.
In fact, Sinas added the situation in Negros Oriental is generally peaceful without any movement from the NPA.(From AYB of Superbalita Cebu with reports from VLA)