ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño scored communist rebels for their attack Saturday evening on the convoy of Gingoog Mayor Ruthie de Lara Guingona, mother of incumbent Sen. Teofisto Guingona III.
“I strongly criticize the New People’s Army’s military action on Mayor Ruthie Guingona’s convoy that resulted in the death and injury of civilians. What happened is wrong and unacceptable,” Casiño, a senatorial candidate, said in a statement.
“Civilians, especially women and the elderly, should be spared from such actions,” Casiño added.
Guingona’s husband, former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona Jr., has been closely allied with progressive groups like Bayan Muna, sharing with them similar nationalist stance on various social issues.
“My prayers go out to Mayor Guingona and for her speedy recovery. Likewise, I condole and offer my prayers to the families of her two companions who were killed,” Casiño said.
The 78-year-old Mayor Guingona, who is finishing her third term in office, was going home from a village fiesta in Kapitulangan, Gingoog City when her convoy was fired upon by New People’s Army guerrillas.
She suffered bullet wounds in the arms and feet and is now recuperating in a Cagayan de Oro hospital. But her two aides were killed, and three more in her party were wounded after a brief gunfight with the rebels.
Allan Juanito, spokesperson of the NPA in northern Mindanao, quickly issued an apology for what it cited as an “unfortunate incident.”
But even with this, Casiño told the NPA “to make a thorough investigation, hold those responsible to account, take remedial actions and make amends to the victims’ families.”
He also suggested to have the incident taken up before the Joint Monitoring Committee on the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and Respect for International Humanitarian Law of the peace process between government and the National Democratic Front, political front of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Juanito claimed that Guingona’s convoy refused to honor an NPA checkpoint by ramming through a bamboo roadblock the guerrillas set up and opening fire when they were flagged down.
In a statement, Juanito said that since the NPA set up three checkpoints in Gingoog starting April 15, four of Guingona’s campaigners were held in Barangay Samay.
These campaigners, according to Juanito, were explained the NPA’s policy regarding campaign sorties inside rebel-held areas. The same policy was told Guingona herself through cadres who contacted her through the phone, he Juanito.
These checkpoints are among the various ways the communist rebels assert military dominance in some of the rural areas of the region in support of the CPP’s five-year program unveiled in 2009 seeking to even its armed strength with that of government.
In an earlier statement, Juanito said they are opening the guerilla zones to the campaigning of politicians as long as they “recognize the Red political power and respect the revolutionary policies …”