Army closes down Toboso detachment

TWO weeks after the deadly ambush perpetrated by the New People’s Army (NPA) at Barangay San Isidro in Toboso, Negros Occidental, which killed three soldiers and wounded two others, the Philippine Army stopped the operations of its detachment in the village.

Toboso Mayor Richard Jaojoco confirmed the move of the Army Wednesday night, saying he was informed about it recently through a text message.

“I got a text from the battalion commander (Lieutenant Colonel Arnel Cabugon) after they have already pulled out their detachment from the barangay,” the mayor said.

Jaojoco said he then called Lieutenan Allen Mark Tacorda, commander of Alpha Company of the 62nd Infantry Battalion, and the latter told him that “the order came directly from the division (3 rd Infantry Division).”

The mayor said it was not clear why the Army pulled out its forces as no reason was given to him.

He questioned the move of the Army, saying “when it should be the other way around,” meaning there should be more forces deployed to Toboso instead.

The mayor cited the two atrocities perpetrated by the NPA in the town last month, which claimed the lives of four soldiers.

The detachment in Barangay San Isidro was put up more than six years ago, he said.

Senior Inspector Joevito Bose, chief of Toboso Municipal Police Station, said the detachment was already abandoned by the soldiers.

He added that Army augmentation forces were “on mobile” when conducting security patrol in the town.

On May 1, Corporal Nelski Marino, a member of the 62nd IB assigned in Sagay City, was shot dead by three unidentified men while he was watching a cockfight in Barangay San Isidro.

The rebels, who owned up to the killing, accused Marino of being a handler of intelligence assets, and engaging in illegal drugs and gambling.

Two weeks later, on May 14, the NPA perpetrated an ambush in Barangay San Isidro, killing three soldiers and wounded two others.

Members of the 62nd IB responded to a reported presence of 10 armed men, but they were ambushed on the way to the area.

The fatalities were identified as Private First Class (PFC) Teddie Alcallaga, PFC Reggie Taleon, and PFC Ramel Perasol and the wounded as Corporal Rosevil Villacampa and PFC Jethro Niervo.

The NPA, who also admitted perpetrating the ambush, claimed that the soldiers committed several human rights abuses.

Jaojoco said the location of the ambush site was a kilometer away from the detachment.

Killings create fear

Jaojoco said the atrocities have created fear among the residents as there were still reported sightings of rebels in the area.

The mayor added that he told the village chiefs and watchmen to monitor, and assist residents who would want to “evacuate” for fear for their lives.

But no one fled their homes yet, he said.

Before the series of rebel atrocities, Jaojoco had been requesting for more troops in the town.

It was only recently that the Army sent augmentation forces to increase the security in the town, he said.

The troops were sent only after the rebels attacked a farm workers’ bunkhouse at Barangay General Luna in the neighboring Sagay City, which killed two farmers and injured two others, on May 22.

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