Partylist leader belies report on anti-NPA rally, condemns coercion of village folk


BAGUIO CITY — A partylist leader in Cagayan Valley belied reports of Bombo Radyo and the military that residents of Balagan village in Sto. Niño protested against New People’s Army.

“Pinabulaanan ng barangay captain at ilang residente ng barangay ng Balagan, Sto. Niño ang ibinalita sa bombo radio na kusang-loob na pagsama sa nagrali ng military (The village chief and some residents of barangay Balagan, Sto. Nino denied the report aired by Bombo Radyo that they voluntarily joined the military rally),” claimed Isabelo Adviento, regional coordinator of Anakpawis, in a statement.

He said the 17th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, under the command of a certain Major Orpilla, tricked and compelled the residents to join the December 26 “peace rally.”

“Hindi lamang kakundenakondena ang ginawa nila kundi matinding paglabag din sa karapatang pantao dahil sapilitan nilang pinasama ang sibilyan para sa kanilang operasyong saywar (Their actions are not only condemnable but a violation of human rights because they forced civilians to join in their psywar operation),” Adviento explained.

According to him, their members recounted that the military invited the residents for a film showing, candle lighting and a raffle at the barangay hall. However, they were surprised when after the activity, the military handed them bond paper, cartolina and streamers with anti-NPA slogans.

Among those forced by the military to hold a streamer with an anti-NPA slogan is Joey Ramos, leader of Anakpawis in the barrio. His name was among those written on the sack hung by suspected state agents around Sto. Nino accusing members of the partylist as rebel recruiters.

He said, also tricked into attending are senior citizens enticed by the invitation for a raffle. The aged folk complained there was no raffle held and they marched from the hall to Zone 3 of the village and back around 2 p.m., under the scorching sun.

Adviento also called the attention of Bombo Radyo reporter Rose Ann Ballad, whom he claims to have accompanied the military during the incident.

“Sinabi niya sa ulat na mahigit isang daan ang dumalo mula sa dalawang barangay, Balagan at Tammuco, pero ayon mismo sa mga dumalong residente ay igit 30 katao lamang at pawang mga taga-Balagan (The report said more than a hundred from two barangays, Balagan and Tammuco, joined but according to the residents who there, there were only more than 30 persons who were all from Balagan),” said Adviento, referring to Ballad.

He urged the journalist to carefully verify information so she can keep her reporting fair and truthful. Also, Adviento appeal to other media practioners not to be part the military’s propagation of false information.

The town of Sto. Niño is a second income class municipality with a population of 27,219.

Since May, the town has been subjected to military operations after five soldiers were wounded when troops from the 17th IB clashed with NPA guerillas while on patrol in the village of Balanni.#