By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The New People’s Army (NPA) Leonardo Panaligan Command (LPC) revealed four of their members were killed during a June 30 firefight with soldiers from the Philippine Army 79th Infantry Battalion (79IB) at Sitio Agpapataw, Barangay Binubuhan, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
In a message sent by LPC spokesperson Ka JB Regalado yesterday morning, he said, beyond the four killed, many other members were wounded.
Regalado said the group opened fire when they spotted the 79IB allegedly raiding their camp.
He also validated army claims an M14 rifle along with its ammunition were recovered, but denied accusations the NPA was in the city to extort money from local residents.
In contrast, the spokesman said they were there to protect residents and their livelihood, adding the army is trying to cover up human rights violations committed by the 79IB.
“Major General Jon Aying, where is your diplomacy?” he asked. “Where is the ‘Oplan Kapayapaan: Marching for Peace’ that you are boasting about, for peace and development?”
Earlier, Regalado accused the army of human rights violations, claiming they drove people out of their homes, stole livestock, and burned down a house.
Additionally, the rebels accused the army of abducting two families.
In response, 3rd Civil Military Operations (CMO) spokesperson Salvador Balontong called the allegations “mere propaganda,” claiming the NPA is desperate to win back sympathy from local residents.
Balontong, in return, also accused the rebel group of recruiting children and turning them into child soldiers./WDJ