Communist rebels on Thursday accused the military of killing two innocent civilians in an alleged gun battle in the southern Philippines. Ka Efren, a spokesman for the NPA in Mindanao, said the Philippine Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion, killed a 24-year old farmer, Andy Datuwata, and 16-year old Ronald Malley, a freshman student in Telafas National High School in the town of Columbio in Sultan Kudarat province. He said the victims were not members of the NPA as what the army told the media. He branded the killings as “a sheer highfalutin and shameless fibbing of the fascist to conceal their ruthless and barbaric act towards the innocent civilians.”
Citing reports from villagers, the rebel spokesman said patrolling government troops under Lt. Col. Alexis Noel Bravo opened fire without provocation at a shack in the village called Telefas where the two victims were sleeping. The attack occurred before dawn on September 29. Ka Efren said the soldiers also arrested another civilian – Tata Malley, 22 – on suspicion he was a rebel and mauled him before handing him to the local police. He said all the victims belong to the indigenous Tiruray tribe.
The rebel group condemned the killings and branded the attacks on civilians as “inhuman.” It said the soldiers also planted weapons inside the shack to make it appear that the military recovered them from the victims. “We also express our sympathy to the families, the Tiruray folks and friends of the victims at the time of their grief, pain and injustice,” he said. “This ferocious crime committed by the 27th Infantry Battalion is a blatant and grave breach of the CARHRIHL and the laws espousing the protection of human rights.” CARHRIHL refers to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
The rebel group said the latest killings “add up to the lengthy list of violations and bloody crimes perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the people.” “The executors of these crimes, the 27th Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Bravo, the AFP, and the US-Aquino regime who is the real tyrant behind these ploys, are accountable and must be punished for the recurring offenses, injuries, and injustices they wreak onto the innocent civilians,” Ka Efren said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.