Palace, Army condemn NPA 'raid' that officials of Eastern Samar town have no knowledge of

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Palace, Army condemn NPA 'raid' that officials of Eastern Samar town have no knowledge of
This satellite image shows Balangiga in Eastern Samar province.
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MANILA, Philippines — The Palace as well as military officials are condemning a supposed New People's Army raid that officials of Balangiga, Eastern Samar have no reports about.

 A report by state-owned PTV News said that some 30 armed members of the NPA attacked Sitio Bangon, Barangay Guinmayohan in Balangiga, Eastern Samar on November 7, just as barangay officials were distributing relief goods to families affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

"We have not received such reports from the locals," Balangiga Mayor Randy Graza is quoted in a report carried by news website PressOne and by Eastern Samar News Service (ESTE).

The town's peace and order council will meet Monday on the supposed raid and to issue a statement on the matter.

The same report notes that "?Police Lt. Allan Java Calceta, chief of Balangiga Police Station, said they had conducted a 'revalidation' of the incident in Barangay Guinmaayohan together with personnel of the Provincial Police Office, and found out that there was no such incident on April 7."

Balanginga MDRRMO officer also Judith Duran-alde said the distribution of relief packs happened without incident.  

"It was a peaceful distribution," Duran-alde wrote in a Facebook post, which showed photos of the supposed distribution. 

"This post was made for the townfolks and Balangigenos who are in other places.. assuring them of what really transpired during the distribution of relief on the April 7, past 9am," she wrote in a comment. 

"Had there been a confiscation of relief goods in that sitio in other ocassions it is beyond our knowledge and has to be investigated and validated," she added. 

"Please don't use this for any other purpose. I am on the side of the government, and we are peace-loving community, i just want to straighten the issue," Duran-alde said in her Facebook post.

Philstar.com has reached out to barangay and municipal DRRMO officials for comment although they have yet to respond as of this post.

Army claims NPA attack

In another report by The STAR, Col. Camilo Ligayo, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade, was quoted as saying that NPA rebels led by one Gavino Guarino swooped down on Sitio Bangon.

"The NPA action caused a shortage of relief packs... leaving other supposed beneficiaries with nothing," Ligayo reportedly said. 

READ: NPAs disrupt relief goods distribution in Masbate, Samar

On Sunday, 8th Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso issued a statement which was also released through PTV News saying that residents of Barangay Guinmahayon reported the incident to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. 

The Palace on Sunday also condemned the supposed attack.

In a statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines said "there is absolutely no truth to the false information irresponsibly being circulated by the AFP that members of the NPA took away distributed relief goods in some villages in Balangiga, Samar."

President Rodrigo Duterte has asked the NPA, a known terrorist group, for a ceasefire amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his April 1 public address to the nation, he was quoted as telling leftist groups, "Huwag ninyong subukan ang Pilipino. Do not try to test it. Alam mo we are ready for you. Gulo o barilan o patayan, I will not hesitate my soldiers to shoot you. I will not hesitate to order the police to arrest and detain you."

The government and the communist rebels have declared separate unilateral ceasefires. — Franco Luna with reports from The STAR/Miriam Desacada and Jaime Laude

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