By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The Agustin Begnalen Command (ABC) of the New People’s Army(NPA) in Abra criticized the officials of the Armed Forces of The Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in claiming that one of the soldiers who are in relief operations in the province was killed by an NPA guerilla.
On the night of October 15 in Lenneng village, Abra, Tsgt. Bartolome Valencia of 41st IB of the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army was shot and killed by Edwin Balawag.
ABC spokesperson Diego Wadagan through an e-mailed statement said the killer which the miltary and police officials claimed as NPA, is not an NPA fighter but actually a surrenderee. Wadagan said the suspect, Balawag aka “Bagyan” surrendered along with his wife Rosemarie Domingo aka “Ramses” and Edgardo Molina as early as December 21, 2008.
Instead of being presented as NPA surenderees, Wadagan said that Balawag and his wife were presented by the military to the media as captured top ranking NPAs. Wadagan added that the move was masterminded by a warlord and PNP officials to collect bounty rewards for the capture of the Balawags and Molina.
“Immediately after being presented to the media, the Balawags were released and Edwin (Balawag) since then was under the custody of a former mayor of Lacub. In fact, Edwin Balawag brazenly tucks a .45 pistol and roams freely with the knowledge of local PNP, including the soldiers and officers of the 41st IB stationed in Lacub and Baay-Licuan,” Wadagan said.
The statement said the NPA operating in Abra did not violate the October 15-16 Unilateral ceasefire purposedly to pave way for the relief and rehabilitation efforts to the victims of typhoon “Pepeng” which struck the Northern Luzon recently.
Wadagan said Balawag is not in any way connected with the revolutionary forces since he surendered. He said the AFP, PNP and the Provincial Government of Abra boasts of the so-called Social Integration Program, which allegedly ensures the rehabilitation of former rebels.
Wadagan asked: “Is this one of their achievements? They claim credit when Balawag surrendered (or arrested, as claimed by Supt. Dayag and Director Versoza), but blame the NPA when Balawag killed TSgt. Bartolome Valencia,” the statement further claimed.
Wadagan also said the claims of the military that Valencia came from relief and rescue operations are lies generated to spread sympathy for the AFP and public disgust against the NPA. He added that companies under the 41st IB are not engaged in any relief operations. He said that soldiers conducted combat and foot patrols during the height of typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng”, citing statements from the 503rd and the 41st IB.
Wadagan said that Valencia was not unarmed contrary to the claims of military and police officials as he (Valencia) had a .45 Cal. Pistol at that time. He said Valencia and Balawag were in a drinking spree when a shouting match between the two erupted.
Wadagan added that both reached for their guns but Balawag shot Valencia first. Valencia’s pistol was taken by Balawag after the shooting incident.
Wadagan noted that other sources said that Valencia wa the finance officer of the 41st IB’s Alpha Company and was carrying P200,000 payroll money at that time. The money was also taken
“Surrenderees have become credentials for government officials and AFP/PNP officers in their promotion bids; former rebels have been used for political projections or as goons and bodyguards; funds for rebel-returnees such as the SIP (Social Integration Program) are sources for graft and corruption; and bounty money have been collected by politicians and AFP/PNP officers on alleged arrested NPA leaders,” Wadagan ended.# nordis.net