Government forces are now conducting hot pursuit operation against suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who snatched Mayor Dario Otaza of Loreto, Agusan del Sur and his son, Daryl, from their home in the village of Baan, Butuan City at about 6:50 p.m. Monday.
In a statement, Undersecretary Manny Bautista of the Cabinet Cluster on Security, Justice, and Peace, said “Otaza is himself a former rebel and a member of the Manobo indigenous people’s group.”
“Since his (Otaza) surrender, he has been a partner of government in ensuring that the gains of inclusive growth reach the broadest spectrum of his constituents,” he said.
Bautista explained that Otaza is a local partner of the national government’s Serbisyo Caravan and helped facilitate the surrender of 154 NPA rebels.
“The Mayor then put up programs that were instrumental in ensuring that rebel returnees like himself get the necessary support as they transition back into the mainstream,” he said.
Bautista disclosed that “several NPA rebels who enjoy kinship with Mayor Otaza through the IP (indigenous people’s) network have indicated a desire to reenter formal society because of the Mayor’s integrity, credibility, and the success of his programs.”
He, thus, stressed that abduction of people “especially of upright, development-oriented public servants who are well-respected in their community, have no place in a civilized society.”
“This only goes to show the lengths to which those who wish to obstruct our efforts towards peace and development will go through, in order to fulfill their agenda,” he said.
Bautista assured the public that the government is one with the “people of Loreto in condemning this incident.”
”Our uniformed services are now conducting pursuit and follow up operations to ensure the safe return of Mayor Otaza and his son,” he added.