Army thwarts NPA’s plot to kill Bukidnon village chief

Bukidnon News, Kitaotao

The Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion (8thIB) on Saturday thwarted the New Peoples Army’s murder attempt of White Kulaman Barangay Captain in Kitaotao, Bukidnon.

In a spot report, the government troops encountered 15 heavily armed NPA rebels while Barangay Captain Felipe S. Cabugnason and his Council members were on a community dialogue in the outskirts of Barangay White Kulaman at around 10:00 a.m, September 19.

The fire fight lasted for 15 minutes until the communist rebels fled towards different directions.

Army reports said there were casualties in NPA’s group during the gun battle as globs of blood splotched along their escape routes.

No casualty reported on the government’s side.

Lt. Col. Lennon G. Babilonia, 8thIB Commanding Officer, said the government troops were on security patrol when some residents reported that a group of NPA is lurking in the outskirts where their village chief and the council members are having their community dialogue.

Meanwhile, Barangay Captain Felipe Cabugnason said they are very thankful of the soldiers’ presence in Barangay White Kulaman. “Kung wala nagbantay kanamo ang kasundaluhan. gipangpatay na unta kami sa mga NPA karon. Sa pagkakaron wala na kami laing masaligan gawas sa atong kasundaluhan, kapulisan ug sa atong gobyerno ilabi na ang lokal nga kagamhanan sa Kitaotao. (We would have been killed by NPA’s now without our soldiers. We could not trust anybody except our soldiers, policemen, and our government especially the local government of Kitaotao),” he said.

It can be recalled that on 26 August 2015, PNP Bukidnon’s Public Safety Company and the Army’s 8thIB conducted law enforcement operation, which led to the arrest of some personalities due to violation of Republic Act 10591 or Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, where, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), blasting caps, IED paraphernalia and subversive documents were recovered from these individuals during operations.

Restless local residents filed complaints against the offenders, blaming them responsible in establishing a “shadow government” in their barangay. Barangay folks also claimed that the rebels are out to kill their community leaders due to their defiance in the rebels’ mission.

Three days earlier, Cabugnason said, White Kulaman villagers prevented the entry of groups who claimed to be members of Mindanao Interfaith Foundation, Inc. (MISFI), KARAPATAN, and League of Filipino Students (LFS). “We cannot let anyone fool us again. This is the reason why we prevent unknown groups’ entry to the village. We can’t be blamed on this because for such a long time, we were deceived and threatened by communists. This is our right because this is our barangay and this is our community,” he said.

Meantime, Kitaotao LGU is implementing its “Basic Services Delivery” project in Barangay White Kulaman with the government troops. So, for the first time in many years, the census of population— that was difficult before due to NPA harassments—is going on.

“Obviously, the NPA will continually hinder development in the barangays such as construction of school and health facilities, distribution of farm inputs, and other services, because once a government project fails, they (NPAs) will use this as a local issue to blame the government and exploit the “Lumads,” Cabugnason said. (Cpt Norman M Tagros (INF) Philippine Army/RLRB, PIA-Bukidnon)

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