BY SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — The leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in the Ilocos and Cordillera provinces said the 5th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines “distorted [the] news” on the firefight that ensued between the rebels and soldiers of the 50th Infantry Battalion on August 30 in Mainit, Bontoc.
In an emailed statement, Martin Montana, rebuked the pronouncement of Capt. Jefferson Somera, 5th ID spokes and Lt. Col. Ruben Guinolbay of the 50th ID that government forces fought it out with the NPA “for six hours” and “overrun a rebel camp” one kilometer from the village.
“The truth is that a unit of the Leonardo Pacsi Command, NPA – Mountain Province, encountered a platoon of the 50th IB at around 11:30 in the evening of August 30 on a ridge below Mt. Amungao which is several kilometers away from Mainit,” said the rebel spokes.
Montana explained their forces encountered the government troops on their way back to their “temporary encampment” after finishing their “political tasks among the masses.”
He added “the clash lasted for a few minutes” and acknowledged the death of one their members, whom he identified as Noe “Ka Gilbert” Magkachi. The rest of their fighters “were able to immediately maneuver safely away from the combat zone.”
Meanwhile, the local NPA command in the province, in a press release said the soldiers violated the International Humanitarian Law and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law of which the government of the Philippines is a signatory.
Magno Udyaw of the Leonardo Pacsi Command-NPA Mountain Province claimed their fallen comrade was already incapacitated and had no means to fight in the first volley of fire.
“Comrades heard Ka Gilbert pleading ‘Wait lang sir!’ but the fascist soldiers continued on shooting him,” he said.
He added that soldiers “shamelessly toyed” with the remains of Magkachi and was seen in the morning tied to a tree.
“Their eerie conduct towards his dead body is an outrageous disrespect of the dead, an utter disregard to Igorot values and culture,” notes Udyaw.
In a separate statement, the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CDPF) sent their condolences to those left by Magkachi, and shared their deep regrets of having “lost one of the best sons of Bontoc and Kadaclan.”
“May his memory be a source of pride for all of us, for living up to the Igorot tradition of volunteerism and for other best sons and daughters to emulate. Such trait is innate from his national minority origins,” said Simon “Ka Filiw” Naoagsan.
The CDPF spokesperson emphasized that Makagchi “embodied the meaning of selflessness” and “a great Igorot patriot and martyr.”
“The sacrifice of Noe ‘Ka Gilbert’ Magkachi will achieve its fullest meaning once the i-Bontok, i-Kadaclan and the entire Igorot people intensify their collective resistance against their oppressors and exploiters and ultimately fight for the realization of their right to self-determination and democracy,” ends Naogsan.
The 5th ID reported the clash that resulted to the death of Makagchi on August 31. The soldiers claimed they chanced upon 30 rebels while on patrol and engaged them in an overnight battle on Thursday until dawn Friday. Government troops reported they recovered two M16 rifles with no casualties on their side. # nordis.net