“IT WAS a massacre.”

This was how Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson of Apolinario Gatmaitan Command-New People's Army (AGC-NPA) in Negros Island, described the deaths of three suspected rebels in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental on Tuesday, July 26.

Magbanua, in a statement, said former day care worker and Oplan Sauron target Christina Jacolbe, her 16-year-old daughter Everly Kee, and relative Rodan Montero, and not Ernie Jacolbe alias “Frezy” as reported by military earlier, were “butchered.”

The rebels claimed that the elder Jacolabe had been red-tagged by the military forcing her to leave work.

They also said that the three were resting in a hut at Sitio Natuling in the city’s Barangay Budlasan when they were shot dead, adding that what happened was a “fake encounter.”

“Sustained focused military operations of the 303rd Brigade have plagued the cities of Guihulngan and Canlaon, and the municipalities of Vallehermoso and La Libertad in Negros Oreintal as well as the towns of Binalbagan and Isabela in Negros Occidental since last quarter of 2021,” Magbanua said.

He alleged that the military have long been senselessly killing farmers and innocent civilians to increase their NPA death count and make their fake encounters believable.

But Brigadier General Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of 303rd Brigade, stressed that the encounter in Canlaon City was a legitimate military operation.

Pasaporte said that with the arrest and deaths of several of its members, it left a vacuum within the NPA organization and weakened their forces.

In fact, many of the rebels here, who are conducting extortion and intimidation, are not residents of Negros Occidental, he added.*