Soldiers kill 3 communist rebels, including a girl, 12;Militant group says they're Lumad

Published June 17, 2021, 10:36 AM

by Aaron Recuenco 

Three suspected communist rebels, including a 12-year old girl, died in an encounter with elite Army troopers near the boundary of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur, the military reported on Thursday, June 17.

But militant group Anakbayan claimed that the three people killed by the military are members of the Lumad indigenous people who were harvesting abaca in Sitio Panukmoan on Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Both the military and Anakbayan identified the two fatalities as 20-year old Willy Rodriguez and 38-year old Lenie Rivas. The identity of the 12-year old girl was withheld.

ANkabayan said Rivas was a member of the Lumad organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) while the 12-year old girl is a Grade 6 student of a Lumad school Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS).

Lt. Col. Benedict Harvey Gernale, commading officer of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, said the first encounter occurred at around 2 p.m. on June 14 while his men were conducting security operations in Sitio Tibog, Mabuhay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

He said that the firefight erupted when around 20 communist rebels started shooting his men.

The pursuit operation resulted in the arrest of a female minor rebel fighter. She was then turned over to the municipal social welfare and development office in Prosperidad.

Gernale said the second clash occurred the following day at around 2 p.m. at the vicinity of Sitio New Decoy, Diatagon, Lianga town. He said the rebels detonated an anti-personnel mine which triggered a 10-minute gun battle.

The military official said the slain rebels were members of the Sub-Regional Sentro de Grabidad Southland, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).

Seized during the encounter, according to the military official, were an AK47 rifle, two .45 pistols, two anti-personnel mines, a claymore mine, magazines and ammunition, and two blasting caps, 25 meter-long detonating cord, and 30 meter-long electrical wire attached to a firing switch.

The three cadavers were turned-over by the 3rd Special Forces Battalion to their families in Sitio Manluy-a, Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.