A smiling Sgt. Ramoso as he was being led to the nearby Lianga PNP station. He and his cohorts did not go to the police station by themselves after seeking treatment at the Lianga Hospital as Philippine Army spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao narrated. (Photo by Karapatan Caraga)
LIANGA, Surigao del Sur — The Philippine Army admitted that the armed men nabbed at a Lumad funeral in Lianga, Surigao del Sur last Sunday, Sept. 13, were soldiers but denied they were intelligence agents.
Philippine Army Public Affairs chief Col Benjamin L. Hao said the soldiers’ real names are Sgt. Lomer Ramoso, Private First Class Gregorio Gabason and Private Reymund Siluterio of the 41st Civil Military Operations Company based in barangay Saint Catherine of Lianga.
The three were nabbed by Manobo marshals at the funeral of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod chairperson Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo, two of three massacre victims in Lianga last September 1, and four-year old evacuee Reynalyn Enriquez who died from an asthma attack at their evacuation site in Tandag City
In a text message, Hao told Kodao Productions that the soldiers came from San Francisco, Agusan del Sur at the time and were on their way back to their Company Command Post in Saint Cristine, Lianga, Surigao del Sur when they decided to have their lunch at an eatery at Lianga town center.
“While they were having their lunch nakita nila itong crowd, so nakiusyoso and even took pictures of the crowd using their cellphones and DSLR camera,” Hao said. (While they were having their lunch they saw this crowd, decided to satisfy their curiosity and even took pictures of the crowd using their cellphones and DSLR camera.)
Hao added that the soldiers were beaten and their personal belongings such as cellphones, money, and a camera memory card were taken.
But Karapatan-Caraga said the Philippine Army is again weaving lies, something it is an expert at.
The group said the soldiers purposefully went around the venue taking photos of the ongoing program and the vehicles that were part of the caravans from Tandag and Butuan cities.
The soldiers reportedly intimidated many Lumad with their actions and the marshals for the funeral were compelled to confront them.
Eliza Pangilinan, Karapatan Caraga secretary general, said the soldiers ran away and were cornered at a nearby eatery. She said they were not eating at the said eatery.
Pangilinan added that the soldiers told the mourners they were also attending the funeral, but no one among the crowd knew them personally.
The funeral caravan from Tandag City had to pass through several police, army and paramilitary checkpoints. (Photo by Raymund Villanueva)
“The fact says it all. They mingled with the crowd while armed and they gave the police false names when they were presented at the police station,” she said.
She added the army personnel were disrespectful of the Manobos grief when they dared show themselves at the funeral of the victims they themselves killed.
“The soldiers can not be at the funeral by coincidence as the event was repeatedly announced on the radio as early as September 8,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan also denied that the soldiers brought themselves to Lianga District Hospital first before lodging a complaint at the police station.
“It is another lie. We brought them directly to the police station and they did not come from the hospital. And the Manobo did not take their money,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan showed Kodao Productions an “extract copy” of the blotter report issued by the Philippine National Police in Lianga.
A cross awaits Dionel Campos’ remains at the entrance of the Diatagon Cemetery, he and four-year-old Reynabel Enriquez’ final resting place. (Photo by Raymund B Villanueva)
Hao said that the three soldiers have filed serious physical injuries, robbery and grave threat complaints against leaders of the group.
He added that the perpetrators of the so-called attack against the soldiers are still to be identified. #
(Report by Raymund B Villanueva)