Army, Salegseg tribe agree to seek justice in court
by Naty Itay-Genzola
TABUK, Kalinga (23 October) -- The tribe of Salegseg in Balbalan, this province and the 21st Infantry Battalion, 501st Brigade agreed to bring the death of one Robert Ambalnog Sabado and the culpability of the Army to the court of law.
Sabado, of the Salegseg tribe, was killed last October 6 by at Sitio Gagammalan, Gawaan, Balbalan in what military claimed as a legitimate encounter with the New Peoples Army (NPA) but Salegseg people claim otherwise.
According to the military, elements of Charlie Coy led by 1Lt. Arvin Encinas had an encounter with five fully armed men believed to be members of the NPA on October 6. Operating troops recovered one M-16 rifle from the casualty identified as Robert Sabado, the report said.
On the contrary, Balbalan people claimed Sabado is a civilian and a farmer with physical defects. They were one in saying that Sabado has no connection with the NPA.
Citing Balbalan Police report, Mayor Allen Jesse Mangaoang said there was no encounter that day. Sabado is deaf and has feet deformity caused by an accident while working in Gaang mines, he said adding a stainless steel is still inserted in his feet.
During the open dialogue on October 13 attended by some 50 members of the Salegseg tribe led by Balbalan Mayor Mangaoang, other officials, elders, clergy, local media, and 501st Deputy Commander Col. Bonifacio Talde and LtCol Lardizabal, both parties presented their side after which they decided to seek justice in court.
I believe on both sides, however, in order to seek justice in a neutral ground, let us bring the case to court. If the court finds my soldier guilty, I will have no second thoughts of removing him from the service, Lardizabal said.
He asked for a reciprocal approach of solving the problem. “I guarantee you that this would be the last (Sabado’s case) but you also assure me that none of my men be killed in Balbalan”.
Lardizabal appealed to the people of Balbalan particularly in Poswoy and Gawaan to help government flash out insurgents in order not to give reason for a military presence in the area. Defeating terrorism lies not only in the hands of the law-enforcement authorities but also in the hands of a vigilant and cooperating public, he said. (PIA-Kalinga) [top]