NPA denies slain ‘lumad’ teachers were guerrillas | Inquirer News
‘New Bataan 5’

NPA denies slain ‘lumad’ teachers were guerrillas

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:25 AM March 07, 2022
New People’s Army (NPA)

New People’s Army (NPA) | INQUIRER.net file photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) said it would “punish” those responsible for the deaths of two volunteer school teachers in Davao de Oro in February.

“The NPA in Southern Mindanao shall ensure that revolutionary justice in the conduct of the people’s war is thoroughly meted out,” Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson for the NPA-Southern Mindanao, said in a statement.

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The Army’s 10th Infantry Division (ID) last week claimed the five — “lumad” teachers Chad Booc and Gelejurain Ngujo II, community health worker Elgyn Balonga, and their two other companions Tirso Añar and Robert Aragon — were NPA rebels who were killed in a “series of armed encounters” in Barangay Andap, New Bataan, early on Feb. 24.

The military, in their report, found one M653 rifle, one .45-caliber pistol, one hand grenade, one antipersonnel mine, assorted food supplies and personal belongings from them.

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The NPA denied the military’s narrative, claiming the five — referred to as “New Bataan 5” were “massacred.”

“The NPA command revealed that based on its investigation, the five victims were in the custody of the soldiers under the 10th ID since the night of Feb. 23, before they were presented as ‘killed in an encounter’ the following day,” it said.

The group alleged the five were accosted in a military checkpoint in Barangay Poblacion in New Bataan, which is only a few kilometers from the headquarters of the 66th Infantry Battalion.

On Feb. 24, the lifeless bodies of the five were found sprawled on a dirt road in Purok 8, Barangay Andap.

The Inquirer tried to reach 10th ID spokesperson Capt. Mark Anthony Tito for comment, but he did not respond.

Wounds, bruises

Save Our Schools Network, which assisted the family of Booc in claiming his body, said his cadaver “bore wounds and bruises, indicating possible signs of torture while under military custody.” The family plans to send Booc’s family to their hometown in Cebu where he would undergo an autopsy.

The nongovernmental organization said the five were on their way back to Davao City from New Bataan when they were killed. The unarmed group came from research work to prepare for the possible reopening of schools, when they were killed.

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The NPA also denied the five were their members.

The administration of the University of the Philippnes (UP) Diliman College of Engineering, Booc’s alma mater, condemned the killing, and called for “an immediate, unbiased investigation of the incident to establish the facts to explain what really happened, and bring justice” to Booc and the others killed.

Booc finished his computer science degree cum laude at UP Diliman in 2016.

He was among the seven arrested individuals during the so-called interagency “rescue operation” on Feb. 15, 2021, in one of the universities in Cebu City.

They were arrested for allegedly holding several lumad, specifically 19 minors from Talaingod in Mindanao.

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TAGS: Chad Booc, CPP, Elgyn Balonga, Gelejurain Ngujo II, NPA, slain lumad teachers
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