NPA admits killing soldier, civilian in Balingasag

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/17 August) — Communist rebels operating in Misamis Oriental have admitted responsibility for the killing of an Army soldier and a civilian during the fiesta celebration Sunday in Barangay Napaliran,  Balingasag town.

Inset map courtesy of Wikipedia.Killed in last Sunday’s violence which marred the merrymaking were Staff Sergeant Elmo G. Penar and Alexander Pabualan, a fiesta-goer who hailed from Barangay Uno of the same town.

Emil Laguera, media liaison officer of the National Democratic Front in Northcentral Mindanao said in a text message to reporters that “armed partisans” of the Eking Balacuit Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) shot and killed Penar for “crimes” against the revolutionary movement.

He, however, did not mention that Pabualan, reportedly a friend of Penar’s, was also killed.

The 4th Infantry Division condemned the killing and is now investigating the crime with the town police.

The killing of Penar, who was not on combat duty then, “just goes to show that the criminals do not respect the human rights of the victim, even involving Mr Pabualan, an innocent fiesta-goer just to pursue their heinous crime,” said Lt. Col. Triumph Dominic Bagaipo, spokesperson of the 4th ID.

“While we condemn this barbaric act, we are conducting a separate investigation on the matter in coordination with the municipal police office of Balingasag in order to determine and identify the criminals and their motive and seek justice for the bereaved families,” he added.

Penar, who was assigned to the 4th ID headquarters in Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro was “meted the death penalty” by the NPA for his role in the raid of the meeting of the NPA’s Committee 4B “noong (last) Dec. 2003 na ikamatay ng isang (which resulted in the death of an) NPA,” Laguera said.

He added Penar was also responsible for the arrest of two communist rebels on Jan. 14, 2006.

Bagaipo said that Penar was in Napaliran to visit his family and to join the fiesta celebration when killed.

The Philippine Government and the NDF, the umbrella organization of communist-led underground groups, have been engaged in an on-and-off peace talks being brokered by the government of Norway.

Peace negotiations between the two parties started after the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. The NDF abandoned the talks in early 1987 after the infamous Mendiola Massacre which left 16 protesting farmers killed.

Talks resumed during the Ramos administration leading to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL).

Both sides have accused each other of violating the terms of the agreement. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)