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No red tagging, harassment of Benedictine nun: Army

THE Philippine Army in Davao Oriental denied Tuesday accusations hurled against them by environmentalist groups that they harassed and tagged a Benedictine nun as member of the New People's Army (NPA).

The soldiers brought with them some barangay leaders to back up their denial.

In the Armed Forces of the Philippines/Philippine National Police (AFP/PNP) press conference at Task Force Davao (TFD) headquarters, Lieutenant Colonel Leopoldo Imbang, commander of the Army's 28th Infantry Battalion, described the accusation as "just intrigues and all lies" to mislead the people who have supported the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) of the government.

"In my experience as battalion commander and former junior officer, such deceptions, lies, intrigues, and propaganda have been always there. It never changes. It is obvious naman that these groups are just sowing intrigues, mas mabuti sana na alamin muna natin ang katotohanan before we jump into conclusions," Imbang said.

He said government troops are actually grateful and supportive on the advocacy of Sr. Stella Matutina for environment protection, and that none of them accused her as member of the communist group.

First Lieutenant Hermie V. Montelibano, Civil Military Office (CMO) chief of the 28th IB, said he vehemently denied the same accusations, adding he never said a word against the nun.

He said the issue started when the barangay officials invited the 28th IB in an assembly to discuss Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) of the Army in the area. 

"Along the discussion with the barangay officials, nihangyo si sister na muistorya siya, so we gave her the floor to speak. But we were surprised because what she wanted is to remove the troops in the area," Montelibano said.

"The barangay officials answered them back and told them that there was a resolution for us to remain and continue our PDOP in the area. After she talked in front of us, I even thanked her for their advocacy. I didn't say anything against them," Montelibano said.
Three barangay officials from Lupon in Davao Oriental echoed the same sentiment with the soldiers. 

Emelita Gastardo, barangay councilman of San Isidro in Lupon, said they never heard any Army official in the area accusing Sr. Matutina as NPA member.

"We are there. We know the agenda of the barangay officials with the 28th IB, and I can assure that Sir Montelibano and Sir Lingat did not say anything against them. It was Sis. Matutina and the groups, who insisted that issue," village chief Arlene Luzon, of Lantawan in Lupon, said.


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SunStar.Com.Ph | May 8, 2012 | Article Link

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