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Philippine Army soldiers kill journalist in Masbate

MANILA — A journalist was shot and killed by government soldiers in Milagros, Masbate, last Saturday, November 14.

Ronnie Villamor, 50, a stringer for local tabloid Dos Kantos Balita was killed by troops led by a certain 2nd Lieutenant Maydim Jomadil after covering an aborted survey of a disputed property.

Villamor was also a pastor of the Life in Christ Church.

A spot report on the incident by Milagros police chief Major Aldrin Rosales quoted army troops as saying they were investigating the presence of five armed men in Barangat Matanglad who fled at their approach.

The army and the police said Villamor was a New People’s Army (NPA) member who allegedly drew a firearm when ordered to stop his motorcycle at a Scout Platoon-2nd Infantry Battalion Philippine Army checkpoint.

The victim’s colleagues however disputed the soldiers’ version of the incident, saying there was no encounter between the government soldiers and the NPA.

Masbate Tri-Media President Dadong Briones Sr. told Dos Kantos Balita the victim just came from a coverage of an aborted survey of a piece of land being disputed by certain Dimen family and businessman Randy Favis.

Favis’s goons reportedly prevented the survey from proceeding, prompting the surveyors to return to mainland Bicol and the victim to proceed to his brother Arthur’s house at Barangay Bonbon.

Dos Kantos Balita reported that witnesses saw army troopers flagging down the victim and, after being identified by Favis’s men Johnrey Floresta and Eric Desilva, shot Villamor dead.

In a statement, the Masbate chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the killing of their colleague and demands a thorough investigation of the incident.

“The killing of our colleague…at the hands of government soldiers sends a chilling message to us journalists not only here in Masbate but all throughout the country,” the victims’ colleagues said.

Villamor is the fourth journalist murdered in Masbate after Joaquin Briones (March 13, 2017), Antonio Castillo (June 12, 2009), and Nelson Nedura (December 2, 2003), the NUJP said.

“He (Villamor) is the 19th slain during the Duterte administration and the 191st since 1986. He was also the second killed this month, only four days after NUJP member Virgilio Maganes, who had survived an attempt on his life in 2016, was shot dead outside his home in Villasis town, Pangasinan,” the group added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA: 11 gov’t soldiers dead in Masbate ambush

The Jose Rapsing Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) claimed 11 government soldiers were killed in the ambush it conducted Friday, August 3, at Sitio Manga, Barangay Mactan, Cawayan town in Masbate Province.

In a statement, Luz del Mar, spokesperson of the rebel army command, confirmed an earlier Philippine National Police report that three were killed on the spot but said eight more died at a hospital in Masbate City.

Three more state troopers were injured, she said, adding NPA guerrillas recovered two assault rifles and ammunition as well as documents containing valuable information from the combined Philippine Army (PA) and Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) troopers.

“The fire fight lasted for 20 minutes and ended when the surviving government soldiers fled, leaving behind their dead and injured comrades,” del Mar said in Filipino.

Last Friday, the Masbate Provincial Police Office reported that soldiers of the Philippine Army detachment based in Barangay Del Carmen in Uson town were conducting combat patrol operations when they encountered NPA fighters in the area.

Del Mar said that their successful ambush was in defense of civilians who suffer human rights violations by soldiers of the PA’s 2nd Infantry Division and the 22nd CAFGU Battalion operating in the area.

She cited the case of of the four motorcycle drivers massacred on August 3, 2015 as among the atrocities allegedly committed by government soldiers in the area.# (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

3 CAFGUs die in Masbate encounter

Three government troopers under the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army were killed in an encounter in Masbate Province Friday morning, a spot report from the Philippine National Police said.

The soldiers figured in a fire fight with suspected members of the New People’s Army at Barangay Mactan, Cawayan town at about 8:30 in the morning that resulted in the deaths of three Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit auxiliary troopers, the police added.

The Masbate Provincial Police Office (MASPPO) said that soldiers of the Philippine Army detachment based in Barangay Del Carmen in Uson town were conducting combat patrol operations when they encountered NPA fighters in the area.

The MASPPO did not reveal the names of the casualties.

The PNP said they have yet to determine if the NPA also suffered casualties.

The Romulo Jallores Command of the NPA in the Bicol Region has yet to issue a statement on the incident. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)