By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the New People’s Army (AGC-NPA) slammed the Philippine Army for the death of one of their comrades and her companion in a clash at Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental last Tuesday.
Florida “Ka Kelly” Ceballos, alleged secretary of Central Negros 2, and Wilfredo Fuentes, alleged courier under Central Negros 2, were killed when about 10 unidentified armed men believed to be NPA members traded shots with troopers of the Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion (IB).
The clash occurred while the military troopers were conducting security operations following reports on the alleged presence of armed men who were reportedly threatening a family whom they accused of being informants of the authorities.
The rebels were also tagged in the recent death of a city government employee who was a former member of Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) at the said village.
In a statement released to the media yesterday, Ka Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson of AGC-NPA, said the encounter was a cover up.
Magbanua alleged that “Ka Kelly” went missing while she was conducting social investigation on the current situation of farmers and farm workers at the haciendas of Himamaylan City and Kabankalan City on Dec. 8.
While riding a motorcycle with Fuentes, a civilian, on their way to Kabankalan City, “Ka Kelly” was allegedly captured by the soldiers of the 94th IB, Magbanua said.
She and her companion were allegedly tortured and salvaged, Magbanua added.
Magbanua said they called on international and local human rights bodies to investigate the incident.
They also called on the local government unit of Himamaylan City to release the bodies of the two casualties so they can be laid to rest by their families.
Captain Kim Apitong, officer-in-charge of Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO) of 3rd Infantry Division (ID), said the encounter was a legitimate operation which was triggered by the death of a former Cafgu.
“Hindi po totoo ang sinasabi nila. It’s propaganda,” Apitong said, adding that it was a successful combat operation.
Meanwhile, Brigadier General Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde), said he has yet to read the statement.
Pasaporte said the remains of Ceballos was reportedly claimed by her family yesterday.