NPA accuses Army for spate of killings in Sorsogon


By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---With four persons killed by unidentified gunmen in a week’s time in Sorsogon, the New People’s Army (NPA) accused the Philippine Army of perpetrating the crime on suspicion that the victims were supporters of the rebel movement. On Wednesday, the Philippine Army could confirm nor deny the allegations of the NPA rebels in the absence of information regarding the killings. Major Victor Dugaduga, public information officer of the 903rd Infantry Brigade, the unit covering the anti-insurgency operation in Sorsogon and Masbate, said he has to verify yet the information whether or not the Army was involved in the killings. In a statement, the Celso Minguez Command of the NPA accused the Army of committing extra-judicial killings (EJK) and human rights violations after four civilians in the towns of Matnog, Gubat and Irosin were shot dead from June 9-14. The NPA command alleged that “elements of 31st IBPA” riding in a van and wearing bonnets shot dead Vicente Gaton at about 9:00 p.m. on June 9 in Barangay Camcaman in Matnog town in Sorsogon. Gaton, who was a tricycle driver and resident of Barangay Balocawe, Matnog, has just parked his tricycle in front of the old municipal building when he was attacked. The NPA alleged that Gaton was killed because he has a relative who is a member of the NPA and for several times he had been harassed because of this. In about one-hour operation, the NPA further claimed that the Army personnel under the Military Intelligence Company 5, riding several motorcycles, undertook the “killing spree” in Gubat, Sorsogon on June 13 They said the first victim was Pedro Espenida, member of village council of Bentuco, who was shot with M16 rifle at about 7:00 p.m. The NPA alleged that the Army personnel proceeded to the next village which is Naagtan, where they shot Alfred Espedido III. Later, they went down to the next village, Bulacao, but failed to find their target. “Several civilian witnesses identified Pfc. Jordan Enconado as among those involved in the killings because he used to live in Bulacao.” The Celso Minguez Command also accused the Army of killing a certain Bernardo Lerio, 52, of Patag in Irosin town, on June 14. The NPA alleged that the Army is hot on Lerio because the NPA “punished” the commander of the Mapaso Detachment of the 22nd IBPA in 2012.