COTABATO CITY, Philippines – A militiaman was shot dead by communist rebels in Magpet, North Cotabato on Thursday , the day the Communist Party of the Philippines announced it was restoring the truce it had earlier recalled until January 15, the police said Friday.
Senior Insp. Sunny Leoncito, Magpet police chief, said Dino Lacia, who was assigned under the 38th Infantry Battalion, was at the town’s public terminal when two men suddenly arrived and shot him around 1 p.m.
Leoncito said Lacia, a resident of Barangay Manobisa, was waiting for his two children so they could spend a belated New Year’s reunion, when shot from behind by the two men. The suspects used .45 cal. pistols.
“Lacia’s children traveled all the way from Arakan, about two hours away from Magpet, to be with their father for a belated New Year’s party when he was shot dead,” he said.
Leoncito said the militiaman died from multiple gunshot wound in the head, back and chest.
“Lacia also served as a police informant on peace and security in Magpet aside from being a militiaman,” Leoncito said.
He said this was the probable reason why the militiaman was targeted for execution by the New People’s Army rebels.
In Barangay Tambobong in Davao City, the 84th Infantry Battalion said NPA rebels have been violating the CPP’s declared ceasefire, which took effect Dec. 20, by restraining the movement of residents since Dec. 23.
2Lt. Catherine Hapin, 84th IB civil-military operations officer, said at least 11 residents, including militiamen, had been taken hostage by NPA rebels under a certain Ka Bobby and remained under their custody to this day.
“Some witnesses said a victim was tortured,” Hapin said in a statement.
Hapin said the hostage-taking incident has prompted some civilians to flee to nearby villages.
“Several residents opted not to go home for the celebration of New Year with their families upon knowing the presence of the rebel group,” she said.
Hapin said the incident had proven that the NPA does not seriously take the pronouncement of its leaders.
“They do not abide by their self-proclaimed ceasefire, they do not stand by the truce that they have with the government,” Hapin said.
The NPA, which was quick to defend itself from past military criticisms, has not sent out any statement on that particular military report as of Friday.
But the CPP reported various incidents of military and police violations of the government-declared ceasefire, which it viewed as “fake.”
“The AFP’s ceasefire is practically a fake. The GPH peace panel members are lying through their teeth in claiming that there are no violations by the military of the GPH SOMO/SOPO,” the CPP said in a statement released to the media on Friday.
The CPP said the military continues to conduct offensives in the countryside amid the government-declared truce.
It reported that soldiers from the 57th Infantry Battalion and the 40th Infantry Battalion have been scouring the villages of Old Bulatukan, New Israel and Biangan, all in Makilala, North Cotabato “and put up two batteries of 105 howitzer canons against NPA Guerrilla Fronts 51 and 72 since December last year.”
The AFP also deployed soldiers in each barangay of Paquibato District in Davao City, the CPP said.
The CPP also added that soldiers from the Army’s 69th IB and 84th IB had been intimidating residents of Calinan, also Davao City, by forcing them to pinpoint the location of the local NPA unit.
“Last December 21, members of the 74th IB arrested five farmers in Mulanay, Quezon and accused them of being communist guerrillas, the CPP said.
It also said that on December 25, local police forces and members of the Army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental arrested Oligario Sebas on suspicion he was Filemon Mendrez, a ranking communist leader; while police authorities in Bagumbayan in Tuguegarao City arrested a certain Rene Esmondo Abiva on Dec. 28 over a similar suspicion.
“There has been practically no ceasefire on the part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) over the past two weeks despite the order of the Aquino government for a suspension of offensive military and police operations from December 16 to January 2,” the CPP said.