By GERALD LEIGH LAQUINON
THE New People’s Army (NPA) claimed on Thursday that soldiers killed two innocent indigenes, including a child, and wounded another after it strafed houses in Lirongan, Talakag, Bukidnon on Wednesday.
The NPA claim came after Camp Evangelista said soldiers killed a rebel in the town during an encounter.
Allan Juanito, regional spokesperson of the NPA for northcentral Mindanao, said there was no encounter in the area.
“The police and military claims are not true. It’s a plain lumad killing,” Juanito said in a statement.
Killed were Michael Sibot, and six-year old Mary Jane Talian while Rommel Talian sustained a bullet wound in his leg.
He said soldiers from the 1st Special Forces Battalion were responsible.
Merlyn Emhay, a village councilor, corroborated the identities of the casualties, saying that they were civilians, and not rebels.
“They are my constituents and I guarantee that they are merely farmers, not combatants,” said Emhay.
Earlier, Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesman of the 4th Infantry Division, said the fighting happened in the hinterlands of Kaulayanan, a remote village in Lirongan.
Martinez said they sent a team to the area after receiving reports about the presence of the armed groups in the village, and then a 10-minute firefight ensued when the rebels fired at the government troops.
The troops did not incur any casualty during the clash, claimed Martinez.
But Juanito maintained that the military peppered with bullets the house of the Sibot and Talian family, and that Rommel was just fetching water nearby when the incident happened.
The firearm and ammunitions confiscated in the scene, said Juanito, were just planted to justify that the victims were NPA members.
“This ‘massacre’ battalion violated once more international protocols of war and rules of engagement of their own organization,” said Juanito.