A civilian was killed and a member of an auxiliary force in southern Palawan was wounded when armed members of the New People’s Army (NPA) attacked Thursday morning a provincial government water project in Barangay Bunog, Rizal, a ranking military official said.
3rd Marine Brigade (3MBde) commander Brig. Gen. Nestor Herico identified the civilian who was killed as Jefferson Abella, 23, a resident of Quezon town and a worker at the water project.
The wounded, on the other hand, was Abdul Ramyan, a resident of Brgy. Candawaga and member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary (CAA).
Abella died due to a bullet wound on the chest, while Ramyan sustained a gunshot wound on his right leg.
“Wala nang pakundangan itong mga NPA, pati civilian pinapatay na nila. Non-combatant yong tao sa water project pero pinatay nila. Yong mga sibilyan ay gumagawa lamang ng proyekto para magkaroon ng tubig ang mga residente ng Bunog sa munisipyo ng Rizal. Ikinalulungkot ko ang pagkamatay ng sibilyan at ang buong AFP ay nakikiramay sa pamilya,” Herico told Palawan News in an interview.
Herico said the NPA attack on May 28 at around 5:45 a.m. was meant to interfere with a project whose only aim is to provide clean water supply to the residents of Bunog.
“Ang water project ay mula sa ating panlalawigang gobyerno ng Palawan na nais mabigyan ng magandang pasilidad at serbisyo ng tubig ang mga mamayan sa probinsya. Yong civilian ay isa sa mga mamamayan sa lugar na nangangalaga ng project,” he said.
“Sa kasalukuyan, kami ay abala sa pagtulong sa mga mamamayan dahil sa pandemic na COVID-19, samantalang itong Kilusang Larangang Guerilla (KLG)-Palawan, wala ng pakundangan,” Herico added.
Palawan News tried to get the side of the Abella family regarding the incident, but members refused. The provincial government also did not want to comment.
Bienvenido Vallever Command admits attack
On Friday, the NPA’s Bienvenido Vallever Command (BVC) in the province admitted to the attack but said it was against the 18th Special Forces Company (18th SFC) of the Philippine Army (PA) based in Mantayog Falls and not the civilians.
BVC spokesperson Salvador Luminoso said in a statement sent to Palawan News that the attack was against the focused military operation (FMO) being conducted in the area by the army and the Philippine Marines.
“Matagumpay na naisagawa ng isang team ng BVC-NPA Palawan ang operasyong haras sa detachment ng 18th Special Forces Company na nakabase sa Mantayog Falls. Ang detachment sa Mantayog Falls ang nagsisilbing patrol base ng mga Army at Marines na naglulunsad ng Focus Militay Operation sa lugar at mga kanugnog na sityo at barangay,” Luminoso said.
Luminoso said the attack was a response to the complaints that the military is harassing residents in Quezon and Rizal, particularly the indigenous peoples (IPs).
He also said that those who are conducting humanitarian efforts are not included in the offensive attacks of the BVC except for some operations of the military.
“Nakatanggap din ng ulat ang BVC laban sa mga anti-sosyal na gawain ng mga nagkakampong marines at army sa Brgy. Bunog na mula ng magkaroon ng kampo sa lugar ay lumaganap na ang mga nakawan na ang mga biktima ay mga maliliiit na magsasaka at katutubong Palaw’an,” he said.
Luminoso said the BVC is true to its commitment not to stage any attack against any government agency, police, military, or politicians who are doing relief missions to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
However, he said government troops who will use the pandemic as a disguise for their operations will remain targets of their revolutionary punishments.