CAMP ADDURU, TUGUEGARAO CITY- The mood was busy.. the top man of the helm of the Philippine National Police, Director General Raul Bacalzo; was due here then last Monday to commend his boys reportedly for a “Job Well Done” neutralizing their rebel foe Jose Asco a.k.a Kumander Baylon in an engagement days earlier in Baragay Lakambini, town of Tuao. Four alleged rebels were killed with Asco.
Asco's band of 30 rag tag partisans armed with shaky and aging automatic rifles became a pain in the ass of the Police and Military for their cat-and-dog conduct of pursuit in western Cagayan particularly in Rizal, Tuao, Lasam and Sto. Nino since November 2010.
What gave the government the ire to annihilate Asco and his group was their responsibility in the ambush-slay of five Policemen last February in Rizal town that killed its Chief of Police- Sr. Insp. Antonino Rueco. Rueco's wife Mary Ann- a policewoman also died in the assault.
Although without not much narrative information; my mind is wandering afar how the two wounded Policemen figured in the reported “firefight” in Barangay Lakambini are getting “kudos” from their boss who was on his way to this camp via airplane. In an account by one policeman; the two ran for safety hitting one of them at the leg, and the other grazed by a bullet on the face.
During my heydays coverage with the military; I remember the process of conferring commendation among soldiers for their heroic deeds entails a narration of their feat and how they were able to deserve such citation for valor.
Anyway, after taking photographs of supposed armaments and personal effects recovered from the rebels from the encounter site; I decided to drop to the Regional Office of the Commission on Human Rights to verify the alleged Children casualties in Barangay Lakambini. Reportedly; the children were used by the rebels as Human Shields from the pursuing Policemen.
CHR Chief Investigator Perlita Agana said the family name Asco really does ring the bell in the war-torn Rizal. Though the slain rebel commander hails from that place; two other family members were figured in two cases of Human Rights violation cases filed with Agana's office. The Ascos alluded were members of the Police force and were complained for armed harassment by their neighbors, townmates and even relatives.
According to Agana; the armed conflict in Rizal and its immediate neighboring towns known as the “Zinundungan Valey area” can be cited as a “Family affair.” Most armed related cases she said, involved blood relatives.
While there are prominent New People's Army personalities hail from the said place; the same realm has likewise produced avid military and police supporters.
Agana admitted people in the area are more antagonized against the military than police authorities.
She said the Rizal townsfolk still bear their indignation against the military whom they suspect executing and burying Nelson Ascena, the Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman of Barangay San Juan years back. A case was filed by the CHR against one “Lt. Pascua”, the latter was
said to have been relieved to his mother unit at Camp Aguinaldo in Metro Manila while the case is moving on its turtle phase.
The atrocities in Rizal and its neighboring realm is more of a family affair said the CHR investigator. Kumander Baylon's men involved in Ambushing Rueco's party where from Rizal.. so as those policemen killed in the assault were from the same town.
Well, Bacalzo was said to be arriving at this camp by noon time to Publicly announce his commendation for his boys for their accomplishment in neutralizing Asco and his group- “a job well done.”
“No thanks” I just told myself. I have to catch the next bus back to Isabela. I'm not that stupid heralding the General's hurray for a feat involving Filipinos killing fellow Filipinos.