The Philippine Army is investigating the alleged linkages of some barangay officials and local government health workers in Brgy. Malasibog, Escalante City, Negros Occidental, to the communist rebel movement, after the recovery of video footages, showing them participating in a program with armed New People’s Army men.
Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said that while he fully appreciates the support of the local government of Escalante in the peace and development campaign of the 62nd Infantry and 3rd Civil Military Operations Battalions, he was concerned over the reports about some barangay kagawads and health workers seen in the company of armed rebels, as shown in video footages, that were among the items found in encounter sites in northern Negros.
In July last year, a member of the NPA identified as Edgar Sagure Lopez, who turned out to be a purok president, died in an encounter with troopers of the 6th Regional Public Safety Battalion in Brgy. Paitan, Escalante City, military records show.
Lactao said he will discuss this with officials of the Department of Interior and Local Government to determine whether the acts of the barangay officials and health workers can be considered criminal or administrative offenses.
“If you are government officials, you should know your boundaries,” he said, adding, “You are carrying the government (in) anything that you do (it) is expected that you should enforce the law”.
If you are a member of the government and you violate the law, then you are not giving a good example to the community and your constituents, Lactao also said.
Whether there should be sanctions on what the barangay officials and health workers did, Lactao said he will leave it up to the DILG.
What they (barangay officials) did was tantamount to coddling of criminals, Lactao, who apparently referring to the NPA, said.
Meanwhile, he commended the 3rd CMOB headed by Major Antonio Tumnog for a job well done in the eight hinterland barangays of Escalante, referring to their Bayanihan team activities, in coordination with the 62nd Infantry Battalion.
After six months of deployment in Escalante, Lactao said they were able to bring to the attention of the Department of Agrarian Reform the problems confronted by the farmers and landowners.
He, however, urged both parties to be patient in the resolution of agrarian reform issues.*GPB