Soldiers fire weapons while inside Iloilo cave to fake encounter

“There was no encounter between the New People’s Army (NPA) and 61st IB in Sitio Mahe, Barangay Corucuan, Igbaras, Iloilo last June 7.” This was the rebuttal of Ariston Remus, NPA-Southern Panay spokesperson, to 1st Lt. Ferdinand De Vera of the 61st IB who claimed that his unit “thwarted an NPA attack” at a hydropower plant in said area.

According to intelligence reports gathered by the NPA, soldiers of the 61st IB repeatedly fired their guns last June 7 while in a cave near Sitio Mahe in the said barangay to make it appear that it encountered an NPA unit. Bursts of gunfire were heard for approximately 20 minutes which terrorized farmers and their children residing in adjacent barrios.

In a statement published on Saturday, Remus clarified that no NPA unit was in the area during the supposed encounter. The 61st IB also falsely reported that they were able to recover an M16 rifle, ammunition, documents, flags, and medical supplies from fleeing NPA fighters. He stressed that the said encounter was merely “a concoction of AFP’s warshocked troops.”

A few days before the fake encounter, troopers of the same unit reportedly mauled several farmers at Sitio Danawan, Barangay Lab-on. They also surrounded the house of farmer Narciso Gapal in Barangay Tigbanaba whom they accused of accommodating NPA fighters.

Officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are notorious for faking encounters and surrenders for promotion and to line their pockets of reward money.