As government troops launched attacks against suspected rebel strongholds, armed clashes between government troops and NPA guerillas intensified during the last three weeks resulting in casualties on both sides, and the killing of a teenager by soldiers.
BY ACE ALEGRE
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 10, Arpil 13-19, 2008
La Trinidad, Benguet (246 kms, north of Manila) – Communist guerillas admitted losing one of their comrades during skirmishes with government troopers on April 5 in remote Tubtuba, tubo town in Abra but said they killed at least four soldiers.
Diego Wadagan, spokesman of the Abra-based Agustin Begnalen Command of the CPP-NPA said four soldiers from the 52nd Reconnaissance company under the 5th Infantry Division and
a certain “Ka Atong”, a native of Salegseg, Tinglayan town in Kalinga were killed in the armed encounter.
The April 5′ gun battle was the latest in a series of clashes between government forces and NPA rebels when the military started its offensives between the tri-boundaries of Abra-Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur last month.
On March 21, five government troopers were reportedly killed by rebels in an ambush, and on March 25, two more were killed and two others wounded.
The military however claimed that only one of them was killed and one wounded.
Meanwhile in Kalinga province, the Lejo Cawilan Command of the CPP-NPA also belied the military’s claim of killing an NPA rebel on April 6 in Mabongtot, Lubuagan town.
Nolcom chief Lt. Gen. Rodrigo Maclang’s claimed over a national radio interview that the 21st IB and the 77th Infantry Battalion killed an NPA guerrilla and wounded two others.
“This is entirely false. Government troops shot to death a civilian teenager, Rey Lugao, 17 years old, from the Mabongtot tribe,” Ka Tipon Gil-ayab said.
It was learned that on April 2, a platoon of soldiers from the 21st IB and the 77th IB from Dupag, Tabuk City, and another platoon from Cagaluan, Pasil town launched combat operations in Dupag, Tabuk.
On the evening of April 3, these platoons converged at Tanglag, Lubuagan. They proceeded to Mabongtot the next day where they allegedly met 17 year old Lugao who was on his way to the tribe’s communal pastureland to tend to his family’s carabao.
He had with him a hunting rifle.
The soldiers probed and reportedly tried to force him to admit that he was an NPA guerrilla.
They reportedly tried to get information from him and repeatedly forced the teenager to point where the NPA camps are. Failing to get any, soldiers reportedly shot him to death and took his gun. His body bore several gunshot wounds.
Lugao is reportedly the 25th civilian killed by government troopers in Kalinga since 2001, human rights groups said.
With Lugao’s death, Gil-ayab enjoined members of the Mabongtot tribal elders to exact justice for the 17 year old “by sending their sons and daughters to the NPA”. Contributed to (Bulatlat.com)