Saturday, May 23, 2009

NPA rebels execute captured army soldier in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 23, 2009) – Communist rebels fighting for a separate Maoist state in the Philippines have executed a government soldier they captured in the restive region of Mindanao, officials said.

Officials said the body of Staff Sergeant Rolen Maglangit, of the 36th Infantry Battalion, was recovered at around 6.30 p.m. on Saturday, a day after he was seized by New People’s Army rebels in Compostela Valley province.

Two policemen who were also reported taken by the rebels in the town of Monkayo town had been accounted for, said Captain Rosa Maria Cristina Manuel, a spokeswoman for the 10th Infantry Division.

“The abducted soldier is dead,” she told the Mindanao Examiner.

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,” the army spokeswoman said.

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 in a statement.

“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,” Mapagu said.

The NPA said the soldier was killed during his attempted escape.

“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, a rebel spokesman.

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, which has been waging a secessionist war in the country. 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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