THE military has brushed aside suspicion that the New People’s Army (NPA) insurgents were the ones responsible for killing a councilor of Opol, Misamis Oriental the other day, instead of putting the blame on them.
The Philippine Army has confirmed to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Friday that the death of the municipal councilor was not the handiwork of the NPA.
Major Christian Uy, the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) spokesman, dismissed the possibility that armed guerrilla members were behind the ruthless killing of Opol council member Cecilio Abuhan last Thursday around 3 p.m. in Barangay Bagocboc.
Uy told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone that the NPA's influence in Opol is not as strong as the other areas in the province.
Opol police said Abuhan was on board a motorcycle traversing the roads of Sitio Inayaw in Bagocboc from Barangay Tungalan when a group of unidentified suspects shot the public official.
Police Officer 3 (PO3) Jonathan Eduave, chief investigator at Opol police station, said they are still establishing how the suspects killed Abuhan as no witnesses have come forward yet.
Eduave said the attackers might have waited for the victim to pass by or they had followed him.
According to Abuhan's wife Margielen, Bagocboc village chair, his husband had been receiving death threats a month ago.
Margielen added that politics may have cost the life of her husband.
"My husband's been so good to his people especially in the hinterlands which other politicians might have envied him," Margielen said of his husband in a TV interview.
The Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) recovered a total of 11 empty shells from a .45 caliber and .9mm gun at the crime scene.
Dr. West Edquila, Soco team leader, said the victim succumbed to four gunshot wounds on the back of his head, one on his neck's left side and one on the chest.
Misamis Oriental provincial administrator Edmundo Pacamalan Jr. said in an interview that Abuhan had been receiving complaints for maltreatment of his constituents, but that it happened years ago.
Pacamalan said authorities are also looking at other angles.
However, he believed that the NPA has not established a stronghold in Opol.
Army: NPA ‘desperate’
Meanwhile, the 4ID called the act of the NPA “desperate” after the communist group released a statement denying that the two people killed in a raid by the 26th Infantry Battalion were not one of theirs but civilians.
“They are desperate because they know that they are now outnumbered,” Uy said.
According to reports, two people were killed during a raid conducted by the 26IB and those were later identified as members of the NPA by the military.
High-powered firearms were also confiscated including grenade launchers, rifles and a shotgun.
In an e-mailed statement sent to Sun.Star, the NPA said their “red fighters” were in Barangay Mahagsay, San Luis, Agusan del Sur last August 15 to help the residents in harvesting corn, while their medics were also giving medical assistance to children and the elderly.
“The NPA squad was temporarily stationed in a hut at the time while helping some peasants harvest their corn. The area is isolated and more than two kilometers away from the sitio center. NPA medics were also giving medical checkup to some residents in the area,” the statement said.
According to the Maoist rebels, the raid turned bloody when a civilian named Iya Manlapindig, 40, and Oto Prisyoso, 19, were shot dead.
“When the raid started, the 'red fighters' just finished their lunch together with seven civilians, three of whom were children. Among the civilians were a mother, who availed of a medical check-up, and her newborn baby. Even so, the ruthless soldiers unhesitatingly strafed at the hut,” the NPA statement said.
“The red fighters swiftly took all the civilians to a safe place except for two, [Manlapindig], who immediately died of a gunshot wound on her chest; and [Prisyoso], who was scraped by a bullet on his calf but was subsequently killed by the soldiers,” it added.
The 4ID, however, denied this, saying the allegations are just to turn the “real” story against the leftist insurgents.
“Well, I am not surprised they would not own it up. That is their doing. It was a legitimate encounter and the two people killed were NPAs. Even the civilians could attest to that,” Uy said.
The NPA feels that retired Major General Jovito Palparan’s "doings" are still continuing up to this day.
“The two were added to the mounting list of the bloodthirsty military’s victims. This proves the ‘Palparan culture’ still prevails in the Aquino regime’s armed forces,” the NPA said.
However Uy said: “They said before that the ‘Berdugo’ is Palparan. Well, I think it is the other way around.”