By Artemio Dumlao (philstar.com)
BAGUIO City, Philippines – Officials of two villages Abra on Friday petitioned Malacañang to investigate the alleged indiscriminate bombardment by the military, which is pursuing New People’s Army (NPA) members who clashed with its soldiers two weeks ago.
At least 27 officials of the villages of Umnap, Buanao and Lat-Ey in Malibcong town condemned the aerial bombings, particularly the bombardment on the Puro rice field in Lat-Ey in the morning May 31.
The officials said that in their petition to Malacañang that one of the bombs dropped by the military “exploded 40 meters from the hut of Matilde Sacgragon where 14- year old “John”and 17 year old “Ken”, were gathering escargot at the nearby rice field.”
The bombardment is part of the pursuit operations of the Philippine Army’s 503rd Infantry Battalion against NPA members in the area.
The military had assured that the bombardment was 500 meters away from residential areas,
The local officials, however, said in the petition that one more bomb was dropped 170 meters from the Hydro-Electric Power House and residential houses.
They said that the bomb exploded at least 60 meters from Ponciano Culangan’s rice granary and 120 meters away where Rommel Teneza was plowing.
“We have in our possession the bomb shells that we found in the area as proof,” the village officials said in the petition.
Even as the Cordillera police reported of “aerial bombings” after the clashes two weeks ago, the Philippine Army declined to acknowledge the bombardment and insisted that their targets were “legitimate.”
The village officials sent the petition to Malacañang through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
“We do not like this incident to happen again in the future as well as we do not like the military to get used to these abuses and wrong doings,” the officials said.
They said the bombings “harassed” the villagers “especially the elderly and children.”