ZAMBOANGA CITY: The military on Friday ordered a full investigation on two men belonging to the Mandaya tribe who were accidentally killed by soldiers during an operation in Compostela Valley.
Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) spokesman Capt. Alberto Caber said Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad has directed the 10th Infantry Division to probe the deaths of farmer Rolando Dagansan, 43, and son Juda, 15, who were on their way home from harvesting corn when they were attacked in New Bataan town on October 12.
He quoted Baladad as saying that the Eastmincom will not tolerate any violations of human rights committed by the soldiers and directed all military commanders to strictly follow the rules of engagement and the protection of human rights in the conduct of combat and non-combat operations in the region.
“We enlisted the support of the police in the conduct of investigation to ensure transparency and credibility of the result of the investigation,” Baladad said.
Caber said Lt. Col. Michael Logico, commander of the 66th Infantry Battalion, has extended initial assistance to Dangasan family.
The New People’s Army (NPA) had earlier accused the 66th Infantry Battalion for the murder.
“The two Mandaya lumads came from harvesting corn in their farm in Kabityan and were on their way to their home in Taytayan at 3 a.m. when soldiers attacked them. Their bodies were badly disfigured with so many gunshot wounds and their heads were defaced while Rolando’s arm was amputated. They were killed by a ruthless Army unit who concealed its fascist operations by using as pretext a purported medical mission in Manurigao,” said NPA spokesman Roel Agustin on Friday.
“Thus, it is only fitting that the tactical offensives launched by the New People’s Army Comval Davao East Coast Sub-Regional Command on that same day is revolutionary justice for the Dagansans and other victims of military fascism, like Gregorio Amancio who was killed by the 66th Infantry Battalion in his house last July 19 also in New Bataan town,” he said.
Because of the killings, Agustin said the rebels ambushed members of the 66th Infantry Battalion in New Bataan and that another NPA unit also attacked soldiers from the 67th Infantry Battalion in Baganga town in nearby Davao Oriental and in Trento town in Agusan del Sur, killing seven soldiers. He said the rebels also seized several weapons from the army units.
Agustin said rebels would continue offensive operations in the southern region, a known communist strong hold in southern Philippines. He also dismissed military pronouncement that many provinces were liberated from communist control or influence.
The rebels are holding two Army soldiers—Privates Marnel Cinches and Jerrel Yurong of the 8th Infantry Battalion. Both were unarmed and on their way to Buntungon village in Impasug-ong town in Bukidnon when they were seized on August 22.
The military said the NPA has kidnapped 21 soldiers the past four years in eastern Mindanao alone and used them as political propaganda.