LEGAZPI CITY – Two of four village officials abducted by suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Cabas-an, Aroroy town, Masbate province on Tuesday were killed while the other two managed to escape, a police report said Wednesday.
Aniano Capinig, 62, chairman of Barangay Cabas-an, told the police that after they were kidnapped at about 7:30 a.m., the rebels shot and killed village councilman Victorino Bravo III, 35, and barangay tanod (watchman) Arnel Retanan, 34. Both were reportedly former rebels.
Capinig said he and village watchman Alden Vargas, 32, were able to escape.
The report said some 12 hours after the police launched a rescue operation, members of a police blocking force manning a checkpoint in Barangay Luy-a arrested Jeffrey Drio, 36, of Barangay Ambolong.
Drio had with him a .45-caliber pistol with ammunition, a bladed weapon, and two explosive materials.
Police investigators said he could be a member of the rebel group led by “Ka Cris” and “Ka Aris” that abducted the four village officials.
Capt. John Paul Belleza, 9th Infantry Division (9ID) spokesperson, said Wednesday a joint manhunt operation by the Philippine National Police and the military against the NPA group is underway while an investigation into the incident is ongoing.
“As of now, Barangay Cabas-an is being thoroughly secured and monitored. Alsa-masa (mass uprising) community is a place where residents, most of them former rebels, detest the communist-terrorist group (CTG),” he said.
Meanwhile, in a statement, Maj. Gen. Henry Robinson Jr., commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) Bicolandia, condemned the killing of the two village officials, saying it violates the International Humanitarian Law (IHL); Republic Act 9851 or the “Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity”; the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law; and the Anti-Terrorism Law.
Robinson said the CTG knew nothing except to sow fear in the communities and terrorize their former comrades who have already chosen to live a more peaceful life.
It can be recalled that last year, more than a hundred CTG members and supporters surrendered and withdrew their membership from the group in Masbate.
“Killing a helpless person does not make you brave. It makes you a coward. The CTG members are transforming themselves into merciless beasts, devouring defenseless people who refuse to give in to their useless cause. Knowing that they are no longer capable of fighting against our soldiers because of their waning capability both in manpower and firepower, they are now victimizing innocent people,” he said.
Robinson enjoined the Bicolanos to join them in condemning the murder and defeating communist terrorism.
He urged the remaining communist terrorists to return to the fold of the law while there is still time.
“Go back to your families, lay down your arms, and rally with the government’s campaign to end the local communist insurgency. Do not allow yourselves to be used by this group of murderers, deceitful and notorious terrorists,” Robinson said. (PNA)