At least 12 farmers who were gathering honey were arrested by soldiers belonging to the 61st Infantry Battalion in Antique over the weekend. The farmers, including five children, are residents of Barangay Igpanulong, Sibalom, Antique.
The arrested individuals are being accused of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA). The 61st IB claim that they were arrested as a result of its hot pursuit operation. Lt. Col. Benedict Batara, commanding officer of the 61st IB of the Philippine Army said it encountered an NPA unit on April 18, 2020, past 10:00 a.m. in Sitio Mayong, Brgy. Tordesillas, Sibalom, Antique.
The New People’s Army (NPA)-Mt. Napulak Command in Southern Panay, however, denied that such an encounter took place.
According to the civilians, they were in the said area gathering honey to augment their lost income amid the economic crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and the ineptness of the Duterte government to give prompt relief to the rural masses.