ILOILO CITY — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) denied overkill in the December 1 attack against the New People’s Army (NPA) that killed at least eight communist rebels in Miag-ao town, Iloilo province.
“It was a justified use of force,” said Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID).
The army general was responding to allegations of left-leaning organizations including Bayan Muna Panay in using excessive force that may have also put civilians in danger.
“They should understand that we’re not fighting the boy scouts. The AFP can use its maximize force,” Arevalo told Manila Bulletin in a phone interview Thursday, December 2.
Government troops under the 301st Infantry Brigade (301 IB) including the 61st Infantry Battalion (61 IB) engaged with more or less 70 NPA rebels around 6 a.m. of December 1 in the mountain village of Alimodias, which is more than 25 kilometers from Miag-ao town proper.
Soldiers had assistance from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) while there was an artillery ground team in attacking NPA rebels.
According to Arevalo, the December 1 operations thwarted a major attack to be staged by the NPA in Panay Island in preparation for the 53rd founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on December 26.
As of the afternoon of December 2, law enforcers cannot confirm if the death toll has risen to 16 as the Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) is still gathering physical evidence.
“As of the moment, we can only confirm that eight NPA rebels were killed as we have eight bodies recovered,” Arevalo pointed out.