BAGUIO CITY — The Chadli Molintas Command of the New People’s Army (CMC-NPA) in Ilocos and Cordillera regions disputed the reports that three of their members in Ilocos Sur died in an encounter.

In a statement, CMC-NPA Spokesperson Martin Montana said troops from the 81st Infantry Battalion abducted and murdered their comrades. He identified the fatalities as Julius “Ka Goyo” Marquez, Ennabel “Ka Onor/Leah” Balunos, and Maria Finela “Ka Ricky” Mejia. According to him, the three were members of the NPA’s Alfredo Cesar Command in Ilocos Sur.

“Based on confirmed reports, they were abducted inside a house at Namatican, Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur at around 10 PM of February 13 by elements of the 81st IB. A few minutes after they were forcibly dragged out of the house, all three were brutally shot on their heads,” the rebel leader said.

Montana said that statements from witnesses established that no encounter happened.

“This heinous crime committed by the 81st IB is a clear violation of the articles of war and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL),” he added.

Montana noted the incident “clearly demonstrates its insincerity in working towards a peaceful resolution of the ongoing civil war in the country.” He also condemned the execution of their comrades and vowed to “ensure that revolutionary justice shall be rendered.”

Lieutenant Colonel Rodrigo Mariñas, Jr., commander of the 81st IB, claimed the incident was a result of a tip. He revealed that his troops received that least five fully armed men were holding a meeting in the house in Barangay Namatican, Sta. Lucia town. Upon arriving at the site, the rebels allegedly opened fire, prompting the army to return fire. According to the police report, the firefight lasted for about 10 minutes.

The military tagged Marquez as the secretary of the Kilusang Larangang Gerilya Southern Ilocos Sur of the NPA rebels while Balunos is his deputy. Pursuit operation against those who escaped during the incident is ongoing. # nordis.net

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