Police blame NPA for Good Friday clash in Butuan

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/05 April) – The Police Regional Office in Region 13 has released an investigation report pointing to the New People’s Army as the instigator of the encounter on Good Friday that killed two militiamen in Sitio Iyao, Barangay Anticala, this city.

Regional police chief, Supt. Getulio Napenas said it was the rebels not 3rd Special Forces and the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) that started the clash.

The encounter disrupted the traditional Way of the Cross celebration in Iyao and killed militiamen Ariel Andohoyan and Ernie Darasin.

Napenas said the investigation was conducted by a task force comprised by scene of the crime operatives and a team from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and formed right after the incident.

He said the slain militiamen together with the Special Forces and RPSB provided perimeter security for the religious activity.

The bullet trajectory analysis suggested the fire that killed the militiamen came from a third party not from the security teams, he added.

The police official said his men even heard someone shout an instruction to get the firearms of the casualties.

The PRO 13 also warned the people against information being spread through social networking sites that the clash was concocted to discredit the NPA or that the devotees were ambushed by government forces.

“Several [people] even suggested [it was an] assassination attempt or a plot to discredit certain individuals. These are all fiction, stories meant to distort the truth,” said Supt. Martin Gamba, public information officer of PRO13.

Gamba said the gossips would only create further confusion among the people.

“The truth is far from fiction, it was not a TV soap opera drama that was just created but lives of people were at stake on that fateful morning,” he said.

Gamba admitted the investigation report considered the probability of a misencounter between the government forces.

He, however, clarified that a misencounter could only have happened for a short time after the shots that killed the militiamen.

“Both the SF and RPSB teams immediately recognized each other through password and countersign averting further injury and loss of life through friendly fire,” he explained.

Nepanas meanwhile said the ambush was an act of retaliation against the Andohoyan and Darasin.

He said the militiamen were the targets of the attack because they served as guides when police overran two rebel camps in Sitio Patagon in Anticala last month. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)