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Military denies hand in slay of mining advocate in Agusan Sur

The 25th Infantry Battalion belied the allegations of the Save Our School (SOS) network in its Facebook post accusing them of being behind the killing of member of the Parents Teachers Community Association (PTCA) of MISFI Academy in Barangay Salvacion, Trento, Agusan del Sur on Saturday.

Lt. Col Oscar Balignasay, the commander of 25th IB, said that the murder of Beverly Geronimo, 27, is already being investigated by the Trento police.

“This unit belied the allegation of killing this woman (Beverly),” he said, adding that the accusation is just propaganda to discredit the gains of the military in driving away the communist rebels from the hinterland communities.

According to the Facebook post, two armed men in civilian clothes “believed to be agents” of the 25th IB gunned down Geronimo in Barangay Salvacion. Her eight-year-old daughter, also a MISFI student, was also wounded in the attack.

Geronimo, also an active member of the Tabing Guangan Farmers Association (Taguafa), her daughter and two of their relatives went to Trento Poblacion on a motorcycle to buy school supplies for the opening of classes.

Accordingly, at around 12 noon, they were waylaid by two men on their way home who then fired at them.
The victim died from seven gunshot wounds, including one in the head, which killed her instantly. Her daughter, meanwhile, was hit on the arm.

The report said that Geronimo experienced harassment, intimidation and coercion from different military battalions present in their community since 2009 (75th, 25th, 67th and 66th) due to her advocacy against large-scale mining such as OZ Metals and Agusan Petroleum.

The battalion commander said the NPA suffered a series of setbacks following the surrender of thousands of its members and supporters in Salvacion and Barangay Pangyan, both in Trento, as well as in the barangays of Monkayo, Compostela Valley from January to May this year.

“This NPA unit (SECOM 20) is very desperate and (wants) to take vengeance by all means possible,” he added.

Balignasay said the battalion is committed to pursue the mandate of the the AFP in bringing peace, securing and protecting the people and state.

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