NPA hitmen kill ex-rebels and their unborn childBy Fernan Gianan
Inquirer Southern Luzon
VIRAC, Catanduanes, Philippines—A guerilla couple who decided to come down from the hills to start a new life in San Miguel town had their dreams shattered on Good Friday when they, along with their unborn child, were gunned down by armed men believed to be their former comrades, police said Saturday.
Jerome Viola Bernal, 28, a native of Solong, died instantly after being shot by unidentified men believed to be New People’s Army hitmen at 11 a.m. in his residence at the riverside village of Siay.
His assailants did not spare his live-in partner, Mylene Tenerife Tindugan, 23, who was seven months pregnant and was shot in the abdomen.
Doctors at the Eastern Bicol Medical Center where she was rushed by policemen said the fetus in her womb also died.
The suspects fled to a mountainous area of the barangay after the shooting.
According to a police field report sent on Saturday to Catanduanes police provincial director Senior Superintendent Eduardo Chavez, Bernal and Tindugan were having lunch when five unidentified armed men arrived. Two of them entered the house and poked a gun at Bernal, who pleaded for his life.
“Leave me alone because I already have a peaceful life. Don’t you see my wife is pregnant?” Bernal was quoted as telling intruders, who then shot him several times in the head and body until he fell dead. The men then fired a gun at Mylene, hitting her on the left part of the abdomen.
Chavez said the initial reports gathered by the San Miguel police showed that the couple were communist guerrillas operating on the island when they fell in love and decided to surrender.
Bernal reportedly became a member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu), the military’s auxiliary arm, and then went home to Siay to attend to his pregnant wife.
However, Lieutenant Colonel Bernard Fortez, the commander of the Philippine Army’s 83rd Infantry Battalion based in the province, on Saturday denied that Bernal was a Cafgu member.
He said the victim was a rebel returnee along with his wife. Describing Bernal’s death as an extra-judicial killing, he also criticized the New People’s Army for shooting Tindugan, saying that the woman and her unborn child should have been spared for humanitarian reasons.