Army probes more in brgy for NPA links

The Philippine Army is looking into reports that more barangay officials maybe affiliated with the New People’s Army, after the death of a suspected rebel in Escalante City, who turned out to be a purok president.

“We have to see if there are other barangay officials, whose mindsets are similar to that of the slain barangay official in Escalante City,” Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander said, apparently referring to the case of Edgar Sagure Lopez, a purok president of Sitio Gaway’Gaway in Brgy. Jonob-jonob, Escalante City.

Lopez recently died in an encounter with troopers of the 6th Regional Public Safety Battalion in Brgy. Paitan, Escalante City. A civilian and a policeman were also slightly injured in the gunbattle.

Alarmed by the membership of a purok president in the NPA, Lactao said a barangay official should work for the government, and not with the NPA, who are fighting against the government.

Lactao presided over the regular meeting of the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Council, which is composed of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and National Police in Negros Occidental, on Thursday in Escalante City, that tackled the alleged involvement of barangay officials in the NPA, among others.

Lactao also said he informed Escalante Mayor Melecio Yap on the death of a barangay official, who turned out to be an NPA member, in an encounter with the police.

Police troopers recovered a CPP-NPA red flag, assorted subversive documents, and combat packs containing personal belongings, and empty shells of assorted high-powered firearms at the encounter site in Brgy. Paitan, Escalante City.

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division has deployed its 3rd Civil Military Operations Battalion in Escalante, to stop the NPA from establishing its influence on some of its hinterland barangays.

Lactao said he will ask the family of the slain barangay official why he joined the NPA.*GPB

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