By Liezle Basa Iñigo
San Nicolas, Pangasinan – A militant group condemned yesterday the killing of four civilians earlier reported by the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPO) as casualties of an encounter between its combatants and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Barangay Malico, this town last August 25.
Eco Dangla, spokesman of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Pangasinan, referred to the incident as a “massacre” and not an encounter; and identified the fatalities as alleged “treasure hunters” and “senior citizens,” not NPA guerrillas.
“Treasure hunters and senior citizens were the victims of PNP’s (Philippine National Police’s) Fascist Counterinsurgency Offensive in San Nicolas,” Dangla said of the incident that happened in the same area where a policeman was killed in an earlier NPA offensive on July 28.
He said the PPO had allegedly made up the story of an encounter and that the bodies of the supposed slain NPA rebels Marcelo Perico, alias “Mar,” 46, of Cauayan City, Isabela; Arthuro Galvez, past 60 years old, of Ilagan, Isabelal; and Crisologo Alambra, alias “Celso,” 60, of Lupao, Nueva Ecija, bore signs of torture.
BAYAN-Pangasinan said its fact-finding mission discovered that Perico and Galvez were treasure hunters and that Alambra was their cook and not rebels as claimed by the Pangasinan PPO and its Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC).
It also alleged that Thelma Albano, 67, Galvez’s common-law-wife, was killed but her death was only confirmed on September 3, because her body which was discovered on August 30 also in this town was declared by the PNP pathologist as that of a teenage girl.
For its part, the Pangasinan PPO maintained there was an encounter that happened last August 25 that resulted in the deaths of Perico, Galvez, and Alambra.
Chief Inspector Norman Florentino, PPO spokesman, said that the PPSC’s operation was legal and that any group disputing the report should bring its complaint before the proper forum, not social media or the press.