By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (303IB) yesterday denied that they were behind the “death threats” sent via text message to 10 activists in Negros Occidental.
303IB deputy commander, Colonel Michael Samson, said they were not behind the messages sent to the activists, although they are surprised that the list was accurate.
Samson said the military is unable to accurately get the list of names of activists in the province.
Based on the list presented on a screenshot of the text messages which were uploaded online by Karapatan-Negros, among those in the list were Iver of Bacolod who is believed to be Iver Larit of Kadamay-Negros; Butch of Bacolod or John “Butch” Lozande of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW); Erning of Bacolod who has been identified as Ereneo Longinos of Bayan Negros; Clarissa of Bacolod or Clarizza Singson, Secretary-General of Karapatan-Negros; Christian of Bacolod who is believed to be Christian Tuayon, former Secretary-General of Bayan-Negros; Epi of Negros or Felibe Gelle of September 21 Movement; Darel of Kabankalan, believed to be Dharyll Albanez, also of September 21 Movement; and Roque of Bacolod who is believed to be Rolando Rillo of NFSW.
Also in the list are alias Tatay “Ogie” and his wife, and Berting of Bacolod.
According to Samson, the list presented in the text messages also matched with the revelations they received from former insurgents of the New People’s Army who have surrendered to government forces.
Samson explained that the former rebels told them it was the insurgents’ modus operandi to release such information before the government forces so as to sow misunderstanding and place the blame on them if something happens to the activists.
The army official added that he already expects that the activists will criticize his statements and that they will call it mere propaganda.
The death threats against the 10 activists came just days following a string of raids conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) last Sunday in Calabarzon which resulted in the deaths of nine people and the arrest of six activists.
The operations also came just days after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered both the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to “kill” and “finish off” any armed communists rebels they encounter./DGB, WDJ