Police director hits New People’s Army for using banned landmines in Iloilo clash

POLICE Regional Office 6 director, Chief Superintendent John C. Bulalacao yesterday scored the New People’s Army for trying to cover-up their use of banned landmines and denying they figured in an encounter with Army soldiers in Igbaras, Iloilo last March 17.

“This denial is just part of their (NPA) propaganda to cover their human rights violations,” the Western Visayas police director said in the wake of claims by the NPA that no such encounter took place in Igbaras municipality where Army troopers recovered several improvised landmines manufactured by the guerrillas.

“The NPAs are committing grave human rights violations in using landmines each time they attack government troops. Many civilians, not only government troops, were killed and wounded by these landmines in the past,” Bulalacao said as he explained that the deadly impact of landmines even on civilians is the reason why it has been banned under the Geneva Convention.

Last March 17, soldiers from the Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion and suspected members of the Suyak Platoon of the NPA’s Southern Front Committee clashed in Sitio Raya in Barangay Maulangan in Igbaras, Iloilo, Bulalacao said. 

Immediately after the incident, the official said that the local NPA movement issued a statement to members of the media that no encounter took place on said place and that the persons who were arrested during the reported clash are mere farmers from the said place.Bulalacao said that based on an investigation conducted by the Igbaras Municipal Police Station, an actual encounter indeed happened in the area which led in the recovery of nine improvised explosive devices and 49 pieces of spent cartridges from the rebels’ position.

The official said that the Army’s 61st IB also arrested three suspected NPA members identified as Roberto Ilamparo, Ruperto Enar and Ramon Enar shortly after the clash and turned the three over to the local police.

No one was hurt on the government side during the encounter but a number of the rebels were believed to have been wounded, the Igbaras police investigation showed.

Bulalacao said that based on the Tactical Evaluation Report of the PRO6 Explosives Ordnance Disposal Division/K-9 Group headed by Senior Inspector Hurdan Bacalangco, the recovered improvised explosives in Igbaras were similar to that used in the recent bombing incidents perpetrated by the NPAs.