From Panay News (Apr 21, 2020): Rights group claims military attacked Sibalom civilians
The human rights group Panay Alliance Karapatan condemned what it alleged to be a recent attack on innocent civilians of Barangay Igpanulong, Sibalom, Antique.
The attack resulted in the killing of a youth and arrest of 12 more civilians, many of whom were minor students, according to the group.
In statement released by the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry (Hunter) Battalion, the military claimed to have seized a New People’s Army (NPA) training ground where they encountered 40 members of the NPA at around 10 a.m. on April 18 in Sitio Anoy, Barangay Cabalaunan, Miag-ao, Iloilo.
As a result, the Army claimed, one NPA member was killed and 11 were captured.
Panay Alliance Karapatan, however, cited “independent reports” that the military had killed one civilian and arrested and detained 12 others and that these people were unarmed civilians, and some were students.
The group said it was able to get in touch with the mother of one of these civilians, Ellen Centino from Barangay Igpanulong, Sibalom, Antique who aired her concern for her 18-year old son Carlo.
According to the group, the mother recalled that on April 14 Carlo asked permission to go with his friends to the forest to gather honey from beehives which they then intended to sell.
The young men have not returned yet, according to the group. Their ages ranged from 14 to 21 years old.
Meanwhile, the NPA Mt. Napulak Command in Southern Panay released a statement denying the Army report of an encounter in Miag-ao.
“If indeed it was Carlo Centino and his companions who were chanced upon and fired at by the Philippine Army soldiers, we call on them to promptly release these civilians unharmed to their families, as well as the remains of the person reportedly killed,” according to Panay Alliance Karapatan in a statement.
The group urged the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an investigation.
“Our hope is that this will not fall into the pattern where defenseless people become victims of staged encounters and end up in jails on trumped up charges filed by the army and police,” according to Panay Alliance Karapatan.