Army units told to resolve alleged NPA atrocities

Lieutenant General Benedict Arevalo. (Glazyl Y. Masculino Photo)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – Lieutenant General Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID) and acting commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-Visayas Command, urged the Army in Negros Island to step up their operations against the New People’s Army (NPA).

Arevalo issued the directive following the spate of NPA killings in the island last month.

“As usual they’re (NPA) trying to project na andyan pa sila,” Arevalo said.

The first incident was reported in Vallehermoso, Negros Oriental on Jan. 14, followed by three shootings in Negros Occidental, particularly in Moises Padilla on Jan. 19, La Castellana town on Jan. 23, and in Ilog town on Jan. 28.

The latest incident was again reported in Moises Padilla town on Jan. 30, killing Divine Anonong, 40, of Barangay Macagahay.

Ka JB Regalado, spokesperson of Leonardo Panaligan Command, owned up to the killing of Anonong in a statement released to the media yesterday.

Regalado said that Anonong was an alleged intelligence asset of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and would usually report to the army detachment in Barangay Montilla.

Regalado said that they have reached out to Anonong several times to warn him, but he allegedly continued spying on the rebel movement.

Police Major Jovito Bose, Moises Padilla town police chief, said that the town is classified as a high-risk municipality because of the boundaries with Negros Oriental, particularly Guihulngan City.

But he clarified that only two barangays in the town are noted as “red areas” when it comes to insurgency. These are Barangays Quintin Remo and Macagahay.

Bose said that NPA rebels on the oriental side would pass through Moises Padilla town which is near Guihulngan City, thus classifying the town as high risk.

Bose said they have already identified the perpetrators who were also linked to the first incident in the town.

“We will file the necessary cases,” he said, adding that the perpetrators were believed to be members of the Special Partisan Unit (Sparu) of the NPA.

Meanwhile, Arevalo said he had talked to Colonel Orlando Edralin, newly-designated commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde) to address the matter.

“There’s no reason not to resolve this. We want to see the results of their operations in the coming period,” he added.

Arevalo assured that appropriate cases will be filed against the perpetrators of these killings.

Arevalo said he already told battalion commanders to check these atrocities.

“Hindi puwedeng palaging irarason na lang na humihina na sila, that is not the reason,” he added.

Arevalo said there are nine NPA rebel fronts in the Visayas. Four are in Western Visayas under the 3ID, and five others are in Samar.

Based on reports, Arevalo said that many of these rebel fronts were already dismantled and had weakened.

“Ang medyo malakas ngayon is Samar area, while in Negros mahina na sila as we have observed in the past years,” Arevalo said.

He, however, stressed that they will not be complacent.

Arevalo said he’s been telling the military troopers that “weakened” is just a classification of the NPA’s presence, but it does not mean that they cannot do harm to soldiers and the people.

Thus, he ordered the military troopers to intensify their operations so that they will also be prevented from conducting more alleged atrocities.