The Bantay Ceasefire report said Bayan Sultan, an evacuee occupying one of the makeshift tents at the Guindulungan Evacuation Center, sent out his son, Mohammad Bayan, 15, and a relative, Mentato Mamalinta, 16, to get an iron sheet for roofing near their house in Macasampen some 600 meters away from the evacuation camp.
Bayan and Mamalinta rode a cow with a cart to load the iron sheet when the cow stepped on a live wire reportedly set up by the Army’s 46th IB detachment, throwing off the two riders onto the live wire, causing their death.
When the two failed to return immediately, Sultan sent a younger son, Yusof, to go after then.
Bantay Ceasefire reported that Yusof attempted to pull his brother and relative out but could not because of the live wire. Yusof then returned to where his father was.
It added that when Sultan saw his son and his companion, he immediately reported to the soldiers at the detachment but not one of the soldiers reportedly helped him.
Burial scene. MindaNews photo courtesy of Mashod Salik/Bantay Ceasefire
To get the bodies of his son and companion, he chopped the wire using a bolo, pulled the victims out and boarded them on a motorcycle to bring them to their evacuation tent. The victims were buried at 1:30 p.m. the next day.
“What happened was an accident,” Lt. Col. Bonifacio Cebrian, 46th IB commander told MindaNews in a telephone interview. He said the live wire was not a perimeter fence but was hanging on a bamboo pole connecting electricity from the village to the Cafgu camp which he said is being temporarily used as 46th IB detachment.
A Bantay Ceasefire volunteer said the soldiers put down the wire every 6 p.m. and hang it again in the morning. But Cebrian said, “I deny that. We do not do that.” He said doing that would endanger his own people.
The live wire. MindaNews photo courtesy of Mashod Salik, Bantay Ceasefire
Cebrian stressed the wire was on the other side, across the road, fronting the detachment.
Cebrian said they have coordinated with the Maguindanao Electric Cooperative (Magelco) as the bamboo pole may have fallen and the live wire stepped on.
Told that his soldiers reportedly did not assist Sultan, Cebrian said, “I think my people tried very much to help.”
But he acknowledged that the bulk of his forces in the area was busy operating in a nearby barangay.
Cebrian said they are coordinating with the mayor, the police chief and Magelco and the victims’ family, to look into the matter (MindaNews)