KIDAPAWAN CITY(MindaNews / 07 August) –The Army in Makilala in North Cotabato has denied reports that bombs were dropped in a rebel-influenced barangay on Tuesday.
Lt. Col. Rhodjun Rosales, commanding officer of the 39thInfantry Battalion, said the attack helicopter that residents saw in Barangay Batasan in Makilala never dropped any bomb when it hovered at around 3:30 a.m.
Rosales said the MG-520 attack helicopter just wanted to monitor the movement of an armed group led by a certain Gregorio Magbanua, also known as Kumander Greg, of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) Front Guerilla 51.
He accused Magbanua’s group of extorting money from farmers and residents in the area.
Eldy Pangilinan, a tribal leader in Barangay Batasan, said they heard loud explosions and hinted it was the helicopter that dropped the bombs.
“Our sleep was disturbed by these loud blasts. We thought there were heavy encounters on the ground but there was none. What we heard were explosions not gunfire,” said Pangilinan who appealed to the government “not to bomb our barangay” for the sake of the civilians.
Rosales said that as early as 3 a.m. Tuesday, he sent troops to Purok-6, Barangay Batasan to run after the rebels but were attacked before they could reach the area.
“Pinuntahan ng ating tropa ang erya kung saan na-monitor ang grupo ni Ka Greg. E, kaso, pinaputukan nila tayo. Madilim pa, at that time, kaya nag-request tayo ng helicopter” (Our troops went to the area to monitor the group of Ka Greg. But they fired at us. It was still dark at that time that’s why we requested for a helicopter), Rosales told radio station DXND.
The Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City sent the helicopter to drive the rebels away and also to keep an eye on the rebels’ movements, he said. (Malu Cadelina Manar/ Mindanews)