By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The New People’s Army (NPA) in the province of Abra hit the 50th Infantry Battalion of the 503rd Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for preventing the people and family of slain NPA guerrilla fighter Michael “Ka Tarius” Reyes from searching and retrieving his body.
In an e-mailed statement, Spokesperson Diego Wadagan of the Agustin Begnalen Command of the NPA-Abra narrated that on June 6, troops of the 50th IB, 503rd Brigade engaged NPA fighters in two incidents of gun battle in Tubo, Abra. According to Wadagan, the second firefight happened in the afternoon at Layaban, Barangay Beew, also in Tubo.
“The NPA guerrillas, outnumbered, were forced to retreat leaving behind Reyes’ body due to heavy gunfire from the AFP troopers,” Wadagan said.
The next day, the family and relatives of Reyes in Poblacion, Lacub were reportedly informed of his death. With townsfolk, the Reyes family immediately organized a search and retrieval party, which then coordinated with Tubo local government officials as well as Barangay officials of Beew.
The search party tried to plead to the officers of the 50th IB to allow them to proceed to their search the battle area in Layaban on humanitarian grounds but were denied permission. The search party then returned to Bangued empty-handed.
Wadagan said basing it from the track record of 50th IB of desecration of bodies of slain NPA guerrillas, it is not far-fetched that the body of Reyes was desecrated too.
“The 503rd Brigade has a long list of human rights violations in Ilocos and Abra. The 50th IB in particular is responsible for the extra-judicial killing of Pepe Manegdeg, a peasant leader of Ilocos, and the desecration of the bodies of Ka Braga and of Sammy Rey “Ka Cholo” Cayago by crushing their bodies and face beyond recognition,” the ABC statement said.
ABC further said, “The 41st IB, on the other hand, added in its long list of violations in North-Central Abra, the four-day illegal detention and harassment of three civilians in Cubcuba, Bangilo, Malibcong during its failed precision-target operations on the last week of May, 2009.”
Wadagan said the 503rd Brigade acting as security force for big mining interests in Abra, and in pursuit of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s target of reducing the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to a minimal force before the end of Arroyo’s term in June 2010, committed human rights violations and and violated international conventions on the rules of war.
Wadagan said, on the other hand, the victims of the violations of 503rd cannot subdue the raging revolutionary war.
“The life of the 26 year-old son of Abra (Reyes) was ended by bullets from enemy fire, but his shining example will inspire more youth to follow the road to revolution,” Wadagan.# nordis.net