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Army, NPA accuse each other on death of minor

By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---The Philippine Army and the New People’s Army traded barbs on the death of a 15-year-old high school student in Masbate who was hit by a bullet on Sept. 17 in Barangay Libertad in Cawayan town. According to the Army report, a platoon of Alpha Company under Sgt. Banta, while conducting repair of a daycare center in Libertad, Cawayan, Masbate was fired upon by undetermined number of suspected NPA rebels from the northwest portion, about 200 meters away from the troop position. “The troops held their positions and immediately secured the school premises and found out that one student identified as Vincent Pekiro, 15, was killed as result of the (NPA) hostile acts. Troops are still scouring and clearing the area,” the report said. But a more detailed statement from the NPA’s spokesperson Ma. Roja Banua denied the Army’s report that it was the NPA who killed the 15-year-old boy. Banua said that it was not true what the Army fed the media that it was the NPA who killed Vincent Jaylord Vereces Pequiro, 15. She said Pequiro was watching a basketball game when a military man shot him dead while another victim, Reymart Versaga, 23, was wounded when the indiscriminate firing was done. Banua alleged that the military men were drinking liquor at the barangay hall near the plaza and then one of them fired his gun which wounded a military man. After the incident, the NPA spokesperson said, Pequiro was targeted because he was wearing a fatigue shorts, then the indiscriminate firing followed to show they were being attacked by the NPA. Capt. Joash Pramis, public information officer of the 9th Infantry Division, stands by the report of the Army that the NPA hit and killed Pequiro when they attack the Army troopers. Pramis said the burden of proof rests on the NPA.

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