By CRIS DIAZ
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY: The military on Wednesday belied a report that it lost seven government troopers in an encounter with the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the hinterlands of Bukidnon.
“The military has not engaged an armed encounter with the NPA and it has not lost any men in ‘fake encounter’ in a press statement furnished to the local media,” Lt. Erwin Bugarin, the spokesperson of the army’s 8 th Infantry Battalion, based in Impasug- ong, Bukidnon, said.
The press statement signed by a certain “Ka Malem Mabini,” who claimed to be the spokesperson of the NPA-North Central Mindanao Region, said that seven government troopers of the army 8IB were killed in various separate armed encounters in the hinterlands of Cabanglasan, Bukidnon.
Bugarin said that there never was an encounter with the NPA where the government lost seven men.
“The report was ridiculous and a lie because, the military would be held liable if it would not inform the family of the soldiers,” Bugarin said.
He said that the military has also no knowledge of the supposed encounter of the NPA with an armed group in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon.
The military suspected that the NPA rebels might have encountered an armed group of indigenous people in Bukidnon who have organized to protect their communities, Bugarin said.
However, Bugarin said, that the military does not recognize any armed group except the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“Any armed group other than the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP are illegal and unauthorized,” Bugarin said.
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