Panay tribe seeks probe of explosion | Inquirer News

Panay tribe seeks probe of explosion

/ 09:46 PM March 18, 2012

ILOILO CITY—An indigenous people’s group on Panay Island has called for an impartial investigation on the explosion in a hinterland village in Tapaz town in Capiz that killed a girl and wounded another.

The indigenous people’s organization, Tumanduk nga Mangunguma nga Nagapangapin sa Duta kag Kabuhi (Tumanduk), also called for the immediate pullout of military units and detachments in the community.

“We want justice for the two members of our community. There should be no cover up in the investigation,” Roy Giganto, Tumanduk chairman, said.

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Giganto blamed the death of Rodelyn Aguirre, 6, and the wounding of her sister Roda, 4, on the presence of soldiers in the village.

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The two victims were hit by shrapnel from a still unknown explosive which detonated while they were playing in front of their house in Barangay Tacayan in Tapaz on March 11.

The Tumandok people, estimated to reach 18,000 and the largest indigenous group in Panay, are mostly found inside a 33,000-hectare military reservation in Capiz. Also called Sulodnon and Bukidnon by scholars, they are known for their rich oral literature that has gained international recognition.

Grenade

Inspector Larnel Frial, Tapaz police chief, said on Sunday that they have subjected shrapnel and other suspected explosive recovered from the site to laboratory examination to determine the nature of the explosive.

“Our initial examination showed that it could be an M203 grenade but we are still verifying,” Frial said in a telephone interview. He said they were also looking into the possibility that the children found and played with an explosive device which detonated.

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division earlier said that the explosion could have been caused by a defective improvised bomb of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

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Captain Reylan Java, 3ID spokesperson, also claimed that two NPA rebels were wounded during the explosion, citing a report of soldiers in the area.

Statement

But in a statement dated March 13, e-mailed on Sunday, the NPA’s Jose Percival Estocada  Jr. Command blamed troops of the Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion assigned in the area for the incident.

“The explosive came from the elements of the 61st   IB’s Charlie Company encamped at a distance of about 200 meters from the Aguirre home,” Jurie Guerrero, the command’s spokesperson, said.

The victims’ father Robert Aguirre had also denied that there were rebels in house.

Celdic Diaz, the  Tacayan village chief, also refuted the military’s claims  pointing out that the 61IB’s detachment was 200 m from the victims’ house and the explosion happened in broad daylight.

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The 3ID had repeatedly said that its troops had no involvement in the incident. It directed one of its soldiers to voluntarily submit for paraffin examination to determine if he had fired an M203 grenade launcher issued by his unit.

TAGS: Explosion, Panay, Probe

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