Lontok was not an NPA rebel – kin, AFPBy Delfin T. Mallari Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon
LUCENA CITY — The family of slain environmentalist Tirso “Jun” Lontok Jr. on Sunday strongly disputed the report that he once joined the New People’s Army (NPA).
“The family knows nothing of Kuya Jun’s supposed NPA membership. We also don’t know JJ Marasigan,” Ariel Saliva, spokesman of the Lontok family, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer over the phone.
He appealed to all who knew his cousin not to muddle the bloody shooting incident in Atimonan, Quezon and besmirch the reputations of its victims through unsubstantiated tales and information.
“If they are really friends of Kuya Jun, they should join his family in our quest for justice for the victims of Atimonan massacre,” said Saliva, who was also Lontok’s personal driver.
The Lontok family in a press conference on Thursday also stressed that there was no political angle in the killing.
According to Joseph Jadway “JJ” Marasigan, chairperson of Quezon Association for Rural Development and Democratization Services Inc., in his contributed article to the Inquirer that was published Sunday, Lontok once joined the NPA and went underground.
Marasigan further said that after Lontok found out that life in the boondock was not for him, “the environmentalist decided to surrender and commit himself to the government’s social reintegration program.”
But a highly placed source from the military intelligence community also denied that Lontok had once became a communist guerrilla.
The informant, citing intelligence record, said: “Lontok is an activist during his college days in Manila and went on a countryside exposure for a certain period” but the source stressed that it did not go as far as joining the communist rebel movement.
“What could had follow after the exposure was his oath-taking as party (Communist Party of the Philippines) member but Lontok did not continue,” said the military source.
The source added: “But he has lots of contacts with the UG (underground).”
Lontok became the Sariaya town municipal administrator from 2004 to 2007 but lied low from politics in 2008 and worked in Saudi Arabia for a year.
Upon his return, he became a political adviser of the Alcalas on Quezon politics.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, the patriarch of the Alcala clan, admitted that Lontok is a close relative and one of the organizers of the Liberal Party in the province.
The Alcalas and Lontok both have their roots in Dolores, Quezon.
The military source also confirmed that Victor Siman, one of the 13 persons killed in an alleged shootout with police and Army soldiers along the Maharlika Highway in Atimonan on Jan. 6, was a “jueteng operator.”
“But he (Siman) has no links with the rebel movement,” said the informant.
Lontok, a native of Dolores town located at the foot of Mt. Banahaw, was known in the province to have access to NPA rebels. The mountain was once a lair of communist guerrillas.
One of Lontok’s close relatives admitted in an earlier interview that the environmentalist had once helped Siman in dealing with NPA rebels in Laguna who had been harassing Siman’s operation of “bookies,” an illegal numbers game based on the government-sanctioned Small Town Lottery, in Calamba City.
The relative said that a day before the Atimonan encounter, Siman had asked Lontok to join him in his trip to Camarines Norte to stop the insurgents from harassing his gambling operations in the area.