BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Philippine Army 3rd Infantry Division strongly debunked what it calls hearsay-based allegations of the National Democratic Front-Negros and Karapatan that the Army was behind the death and alleged beheading of a farmer, whose body was found in a ravine near the encounter site in Sitio Amian, Brgy. Tan-awan, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental recently.
Maj. Cenon Pancito, 3rd Infantry Division spokesman, yesterday said it was even the soldiers of the 11th Infantry Battalion who assisted the PNP Scene of the Crime operatives in retrieving from the site the decomposing cadaver of Bernardo Guillen Sr. on Sept. 26.
He said the retrieval was witnessed by Tan-awan barangay officials, in response to a report of a civilian, who discovered the body in a ravine.
He clarified that Guillen was not beheaded, contrary to the accusations of the NPA and its allied organizations, and stressed that he was not forcibly taken by Army soldiers.
It just happened that his body was in an advanced state of decomposition when it was recovered by authorities, Pancito said.
He added that their investigations also showed that Guillen was the father of one of the six NPA rebels arrested in previous months by Army soldiers in Brgy. Luyang, Mabinay town in Negros Oriental.
Pancito also said that the wife of Guillen revealed to them that her husband insisted to get closer to the encounter site on Sept. 17, for still unknown reasons.
He recalled that the Sept. 17 encounter yielded an M16 assault rifle and other war materials, while no casualty was reported on the government side.
NDF Negros spokesman Bayani Obrero, however, claimed in a statement that Guillen was cultivating their farm when an encounter ensued between members of the Mt. Cansermon Command – New People’s Army and a composite team of the 94th and 15th Infantry Battalions.
Obrero said Guillen, despite opposition from his wife, went back to their house while they were on their way to an evacuation site. He never came back to them, the NDF-Negros spokesman said.
Karapatan and Defend-Negros also joined NDF-Negros in lambasting the military for the alleged beheading of Guillen.
Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao, spokesperson of Defend Negros, said in another statement that the act of mutilation is prohibited under the Geneva Conventions.
Casilao said they are supporting calls for the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an independent probe on the barbaric act.
Pancito, on the other hand, said the PNP is now doing everything to identify the real perpetrators and find out the truth behind the death of Guillen.
The accusation of Karapatan-Negros and its allied groups is a clear propagation of fake news to intentionally tamper the truth, Pancito said, adding the fake news was being propagated out of desperation.*