By JURIE GUERRERO
Jose Percival Estocada, Jr. Command
On 11 March 2012, Rodelyn Aguirre, a 7-year-old Tumanduk girl died while her 5 year old sister was severely wounded. Both were children of Divina and Roberto Aguirre of Barangay Tacayan, Tapaz, Capiz.
The barrio people believed that this deplorable incident was caused by an explosive which hit and exploded in the front yard of their family home where the two children were playing. The explosive came from the elements of the 61st Infantry Battalion’s Charlie Company encamped at a distance of more or less 200 meters from the Aguirre home.
The following day, Capt. Java, spokesperson of the 3rd Infantry Division, Philippine Army based in Camp Peralta , Jamindan, Capiz, issued a statement to the media that the incident was caused by the explosion of an alleged improvised explosive device being assembled by two New People’s Army elements. He further stated that the two NPAs were wounded and disappeared.
Even ordinary civilians cannot help but ask the following questions: Are the two NPA fighters that brave or foolish to assemble an improvised explosive device knowing that they are less than five minutes away from a platoon-size detachment of the military? And how come that this platoon of the Philippine Army had no idea that there are NPA fighters near the perimeter of their camp? And how is it that the two NPA, who were themselves handling the explosives escaped with minor injuries, while the two children who were supposed to be watching were killed and severely wounded?
This absurd statement and denial of the military leadership of their atrocities is not new to the Tumanduk people especially to the people of Barangay Tacayan. The terror caused by the indiscriminate bombing of the military last 29 June 2009 is still fresh in their minds, when a bomb exploded three meters away from the house of Santiago and Merlinda Aquirre of Sityo Badas of the same barangay.
The top brass of the 3rd ID-PA denied the said incident despite the results of a fact-finding mission by Human Rights groups which pointed to the military as responsible for the said atrocity.
A month before this, the military also killed Charito Eulalio and wounded her husband Jason Eulalio, both Tumanduk people of Barangay Rizal Sur, Tapaz, Capiz. The military claimed that the incident was a result of an encounter between military troops and NPA rebels.
This latest bloody incident clearly shows the deceptive and anti-people objective of Oplan Bayanihan (Aquino government counter-insurgency program) and adds to the long bloody record of the notorious butcher battalion, the 61st Infantry Battalion, which is the main implementing battalion of this program in the island of Panay through the Peace and Development Teams or PDT.
It is not peace and development but terror and catastrophe that they sow among the people. This also shows the justness of the Tumanduk people’s call for the removal of the PDT and detachments of the Philippine Army-CAFGU from their communities which they declared through their petitions and blood compact during their assembly last October 2011.
Above all, this clearly shows the truth that only by steadfast unity and working with the NPA, their true army, will the people achieve justice long denied them by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the reactionary government which represents the exploitative classes of big landlords, big bourgeois comprador and imperialists.
Justice for Rodelyn Aguirre and all victims of military atrocities!
Pull out the PDTs from the Tumanduk communities!