NPA seizes 32 guns from village chief in Cotabato province as 10th ID raises Red tag vs Karapatan

MANILA, Philippines -- Communist rebels, disguised as government troops, disarmed a barangay captain and his men in Magpet town, Cotabato province over the weekend, seizing 32 firearms and other military hardware then spent at least two hours explaining their action to residents, a rebel spokesman said. Meanwhile, the Army’s 10th Infantry Division openly tagged the Southern Mindanao office of the human rights organization Karapatan among legal organizations supposed allied to the rebel National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The claims aired by Captain Alexandre Cabales, acting public affairs chief of the unit, was in reaction to allegations of military involvement in a recent series of killings of peasant activists in Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte provinces. Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesman of the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao said Sunday morning’s disarming of Michael Lingaro, chairman of Barangay Mahongkog, and the paramilitary unit he led was carried out without a single shot being fired. Sanchez also dismissed military claims the rebel unit used Lingaro and his men as “human shields.” He said the guerrillas of the Mt. Apo Sub-regional Command took two M16 rifles, one M4 Bushmaster assault rifle, two M14 rifles, two M1 Garand rifles, four carbines, two M79 grenade launchers, four .45 caliber pistols, two 9mm pistols, an Uzi sub-machinegun, 12 shotguns, 91 assorted magazines, 12 vests and four military radios during the 9 a.m. raid. They then “talked to the masses and explained the purpose of the successful disarming before they safely withdrew from the barangay,” he added. An earlier advisory from the Communist Party of the Philippines’ information bureau said the guerrillas stayed until 11 a.m. before withdrawing.

Sanchez said Lingaro and his group “are being used by the Army’s 39th (Infantry Battalion) to conduct counterrevolutionary terror on civilians in the hinterlands.” Meanwhile, in his own statement, the 10th ID’s Cabales condemned the “unfounded allegations of several NDF-allied organizations attributing the deaths of several people in Davao Region” to the unit and challenged “these organizations to file the necessary complaints or cases against the perpetrators of these killings, they be soldiers or not, before the appropriate government investigating or judicial bodies, so that justice could be served.” If the suspects are 10th ID troops, he said, “we will welcome, cooperate and support the investigations and judicial process,” because the military does “not condone any misbehavior or abuses of its members and will be very grateful to those who will help us purge our ranks of misfits and abusive members.” Cabales said the 10th ID’s own “investigation and research” as well as reports from the police have yet to identify the suspects or motives behind the murders of Ramon and Leonila Pesadilla in Compostela town, and of Arlene and Arman Alcominar and Cora Lina in Laak, all in Compostela Valley province; Pedro Pandagay in Mabini, Danilo Nadal and Edwin Catog in Pantukan, and Elias Pureza in San Isidro, all in Davao del Norte. All the victims were members of peasant or indigenous people’s organizations involved in campaigns for land and opposing the entry of large-scale mining and other extractive industries. These organizations have often been tagged rebel “legal fronts” by the military. Cabales dared Karapatan Southern Mindanao’s Jay Apiag to “man up” and present proof of military involvement in the murders of “confirm the notion that the existence of Karapatan is to support the CPP-NPA armed struggle by undermining the successful efforts of the government against the communist violent insurgency through all these baseless and unfounded allegations.”
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