Fake Encounters and Lies of the 303rd Brigade: Fascist Gov’t Troops Killed 2 Of Their Own in Escalante

Thorough investigation carried out by the New People’s Army Roselyn Jean Pelle Command – Northern Negros Guerilla Front (NPA-RJPC) exposes the following lies of the AFP 303rd Brigade led by the king of “fake news” Col. Benedict Arevalo:

Fascist troops of the reactionary government allege that consecutive encounters between the AFP and NPA happened in Barangays Washington and Langub, Escalante City. We reiterate that the NPA-RJPC did not have any operatives or combatants in the said areas. There were no arms or documents seized from the NPA, and we did not incur any deaths or casualties because NO SUCH ENCOUNTERS EVER OCCURED.

Upon deeper investigation, the first “fake encounter” on Friday, November 16, 2018, at Sityo Puting Bato, Barangay Washington, Escalante City was found to be a “misencounter” between the many government troopers that teemed the said area: the 79thIBPA , 6th PNP-SAF Battalion and the Joint Investigation Task Group.

Before 10 am, 79th IBPA soldiers fired at a bamboo grove only 50 meters away from the homes of civilians. The shooting lasted only around five minutes. Soldiers lied to the people and said that they engaged the NPA in battle.

They did this to cover up the truth that they killed two of their own troopers by firing at that bamboo grove. To conceal their fatal blunder, they cordoned off the area so that no local government official, media person or church worker could enter, and the residents remain oblivious of real events.

Soldiers conducted illegal searches and ransacking of homes of civilians whom they interrogated in the area. They declared it a “critical area” to hide their deaths. They concocted the tale that it was the NPA that suffered casualties and carried the bodies in retreat, even if they made sure that the area was clean of the bloodstains of their own dead troopers.

But the soldiers were not aware that after the shooting, some fishermen from the coast hurried back to their homes and made their way through the sugarcane fields to avoid military abuse. It was there that witnesses saw the dead bodies of two men in uniform. According to other sources from their own ranks, the two deaths were secretly moved out of the area and were positively identified as government troopers.

The army released a photo of an M16 rifle, ammunition pouch, pistol and “subversive documents” that they say they seized as “evidence” for their lies to be believable. But through the independent investigation of local human rights groups, it was revelead that the real target of the Puting Bato operation were the survivors of the Sagay Massacre , leaders and members of a progressive fisherfolk group in the area. The military used the “fake encounter” as justification for their blunderous shooting spree, grave militarization and abuses against civilians.

The next day, November 17, the 79th IB released another “fake news” regarding an encounter between them and the NPA while they purportedly conducted “hot pursuit” operations in Purok Magkaya, Barangay Langub also in Escalante City. Upon our enquiry, it was found that at around 7 am on the said date, seven members of the 79th IB went roving in the said area. At that time, some local youths were toying with a “buga,” an improvised cannon made of sardine cans that makes use of disposable lighters and paint dilutant to explode. Apparently startled and led to panic by mere playthings, the soldiers answered the “buga” explosions with gunfire.

Then they invented the scenario that the 79th IB engaged the NPA in a “one-minute encounter” which led to the confiscation of a bullet proof vest and “subversive documents.” The fascists desperately cover up their humiliating blunders with pure lies!

And then, on Monday, November 19, 2018, a symposium was held between the 79th IB, PNP Escalante, Escalante Social Welfare and Development Office, local government and the civilians of Barangay Washington. Based on the attendance sheet, the gathering was joined by around 80 residents, with Mayor Eddie Montero, Barangay Chief Rene Tiguelo, Lt. Col. Emelito Thaddeus Logan of the 79th IB, City PNP Chief Negrado Sabando and CSWD Head Janine Agwata.

After this event, Col. Benedict Arevalo of the 303rd Brigade and Franco Ver Lopez of the CMO Battalion, through various statements, flaunted the lie that around 800 village residents signed a petition to kick NPA supporters out of Washington. In truth, there were only 80 residents who signed the attendance sheets. The 80 persons were bloated to 800, even if there was no actual petition signed.

Upon closer scutiny, the vested interests of some personages in local power who are covetous of lands farmed by oldtime residents (“tumanduk”) prodded these petty officials to villify their rivals, aside from the issue that these oldtime residents they also tagged as “NPA supporters.” The soldiers fed on the contradictions among the locals to justify their presence and boost their sagging morale. But among the people, especially among the direct victims of military abuse, it is clear that the soldiers are full of lies and pretense who shamelessly connive with petty village-level officials. However, as civilian authorities in the barangays, these officials should fullfill their responsibilities to the barriofolk. Still, we challenge and encourage them to provide their constituents with genuine service and protection against military abuses.

The people of Washington already triumphed in their demand to kick the 303rd Brigade’s “peace and development team” out of their village in 2017. That PDT was composed of the 62nd IBPA under the command of Lt. Col. Castro. Now they are replaced by the 79th IB and they commit the same harassment and rights violations against the people they brand as “NPA supporters.” They want the people to believe that the NPA was behind the Sagay Massacre, but nobody buys their lies. They chide that the revolutionary movement cannot even control a single territory in the country, but now they say that Washington is an NPA “bailiwick” and that the people there are “NPA supporters.”

We challenge low-rank officials and ordinary personnel who enlisted in the state armed forces in their desire to defend the country: you know the truth. We challenge you to expose the grave crimes of the AFP, PNP and the paramilitary SCAA against the peasants and the people, among these, the Sagay massacre, the militarization in Escalante CIty and other military abuses. Militarization has already taken its toll on the livelihood of the poor fisherfolk, farmers and ordinary civilians, whose daily toil was interrupted by these incessant military operations.

The Duterte regime and his fascist cabal in the military are truly desperate. They lie and prop their Memorandum 32 modus with more lies to justify further atrocities. But they cannot stop the people from joining the revolutionary cause. The rotten Duterte regime teaches the broad masses to fight back.

Makibaka, Wag Matakot!

Fake Encounters and Lies of the 303rd Brigade: Fascist Gov't Troops Killed 2 Of Their Own in Escalante