Sunday, May 24, 2009

Captured soldier killed during escape try, NPA rebels say

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 24, 2009) – Communist insurgents on Sunday admitted killing a government soldier they captured in Mindanao.

The New People’s Army said the soldier, Staff Sergeant Rolen Maglangit, was killed during a failed escape in the town of Monkayo in Compostela Valley province.

The military said the soldier, who was seized Friday, had been tortured and executed. His body was found on Saturday.

“Consistent with the Standard Operating Procedures pertaining to enemy combatants arrested or captured by NPA units, Sgt. Maglangit was to be subjected to an investigation for possible violations of human rights, other violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against the people particularly owing to the notorious record of the 36th Infantry Battalion versus the masses in the tri-boundaries of Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces.”

“But after being informed of the investigation he needed to undergo and despite repeated warnings from his captors not to run in the course of their trek, Sgt. Maglangit showed clear signs of resistance and eventually tried to escape. He was able to run a distance, but was hit by a burst of gunfire from the pursuing NPA troops. His corpse was left behind so as to be easily discovered by residents for proper disposition,” said Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesman for the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command.

The NPA is fighting for a separate Maoist state in the Philippines.

His unit said Maglangit was seized by the NPA after he tried to aid villagers being harassed by rebels in the village of Pasian.

“The commotion reached the attention of Maglangit, who was in the area procuring supplies. Maglangit, on civilian attire and unarmed, rushed to the scene to verify the disturbance.”

“He was able to relay the report to his unit when he confirmed the presence of undetermined number of NPAs harassing the civilians. While leaving the area, another group of NPAs suddenly held Maglangit and eventually kidnapped him,” said Captain Rosa Maria Cristina Manuel, a spokeswoman for the 10th Infantry Division.

Major General Reynaldo Mapagu, commander of the army division, the soldier was brutally killed. His body bore torture marks and several gunshot wounds. “The brutal murder of Staff Sergeant Rolen Maglangit perpetuated by the NPA last May 22 is enough wake up call for the Mindanaoans to unite and a put to stop their killing spree.”

“They have switched to a mode wherein they are willing to violate human rights and put justice into their own hands,” Mapagu said.

“We believe that he was murdered immediately after his kidnapping. I am sure that Sergeant Maglangit was not even sentenced by their kangaroo court. He was a brave soldier. He was going around his area of work, checking on the reported harassment of civilians by the NPA, when he was kidnapped,” he added.

But the NPA said the soldier was seized at a rebel checkpoint and his .45-caliber pistol was also confiscated by rebels.

“This incident should serve as a strong warning to captured enemy personnel as well as units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police neutralized during raid-disarming tactical offensives of the NPA that resistance would prove fatal.”

“A number of similar incidents in the past and even recently have shown that enemy personnel are left unharmed when they offer no armed resistance, in the case of attacks on AFP detachments and PNP stations; and do not escape, in the case of arrest operations. The MAC-SMROC hopes that enemy combatants who would be caught in these situations in the future would not follow what Sgt. Maglangit did,” Sanchez said.

The abduction of Maglangit came barely two weeks after rebels freed a captured government soldier – Private First Class Ronnie Trinidad - in Compostela Valley. The NPA said it freed the soldier on humanitarian grounds.

Rebels captured Trinidad, who belongs to the 66th Infantry Battalion, on April 28 at a checkpoint in the village of Pagsabangan in New Bataan town. Trinidad was seized while on his way to barracks with another soldier, Corporal Japhet Lavid, who had escaped from rebels.

Last week, communist rebels also executed a former army soldier, Dante Villa, they seized May 9 in Davao del Sur province, also in Mindanao. His body was recovered in the village of Dongan Pekong in Matanao town.

Early this month, NPA rebels admitted killing four civilians - Ruben Bitang, Macky Estremos, Marcelino Payot and Bobong Gambuta - they accused of aiding the military in its anti-insurgency campaign.

The rebels also tagged the four men as behind the brutal murder of Rebelyn Bitang, a daughter of a senior NPA leader Leoncio Pitao.

Pitao’s daughter was abducted in Davao City on March 4. Her naked body was found the next day floating in a shallow creek in the village of San Isidro in Davao del Norte’s Carmen town. Her family said the woman’s body bore torture marks and was believed raped.

The NPA is the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines. Peace talks between Manila and the CPP-NPA collapsed in 2004 after both sides failed to sign an agreement to end more than four decades of bloody fighting. (Mindanao Examiner)

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