MANILA -- The New People's Army on Tuesday denied responsibility for a series of killings in Negros Oriental province, which it instead blamed on policemen who are allegedly part of the vigilante group "Duterte Death Squad."
The 17 people killed by unidentified gunmen this month include several critics of President Rodrigo Duterte, anti-mining advocates and a rights lawyer, said NPA-Leonardo Panaligan Command deputy spokesperson Ann Jacinto.
None of the fatalities were in the NPA's hit list, she said.
"'Yung mga gumagawa ng pagpatay identified naman na mga miyembro ng PNP na naka-duty sa Guihulngan City. Sila ay mga Duterte Death Squad," Jacinto said, citing supposed police informants.
(Those who did the killings are members of the Philippine National Police who are assigned in Guihulngan City. They are part of the Duterte Death Squad.)
Police and the military earlier said the killings were the handiwork of vigilante group Katawhan Guihulnganon Kontra Komunista (Kagubak).
'"Yung sinasabi nilang vigilante group... dino-drawing lang 'yun ng PNP at AFP," said Jacinto, this time citing a supposed mole in the military.
(The vigilante group they're talking about, that was just fabricated by the PNP and AFP.)
The NPA, she said, will hunt down those it suspects of carrying out the recent killings.
MILITARY FIRES BACK
B/Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the military's 303rd Infantry Brigade, however, said the rebel group's accusations are just "propaganda."
"Hindi naman alangan din na meron ding mga grupo itong mga kamag-anak, kaibigan ng mga biktima na umalsa din laban sa kanila. Although ayaw din natin din 'yan. Hindi natin 'yan ito-tolerate," he said.
The NPA has claimed responsibility for the killing of 4 policemen in Ayungon, Negros Oriental earlier this month.
"Kung wala talagang CPP-NPA dito sa ating bayan, hindi naman magkakaganito to. Sa kanila talaga nagsisimula ang gulo na to," said Arevalo.
(If there is no NPA in our town, it wouldn't have led to this. The trouble started with them.)
PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said Monday that he has deployed 300 additional elite policemen to help stop the bloodshed in the Negros provinces.