P3M for rebel leader’s head; bells toll to end killings
President Duterte offered a P3-million reward for the head of the communist rebel leader behind the killings of four police intelligence officers in Negros Oriental last week.
The President offered the bounty as San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza ordered the tolling of church bells nightly as a call to end the killings that have gripped Negros island over the last few days.
Duterte said in a speech late on Thursday that he would increase the bounty to P20 million out of anger for the killings of the policemen on July 18 in Ayungon, Negros Oriental.
Duterte said the policemen were taken hostage, beaten up and killed then burned. Communist guerrillas claimed responsibility for the ambush that killed the law enforcers but denied torturing them.
Regional military commander Lt. Gen. Noel Clement said each of the policemen was shot in the head once while likely kneeling or sprawled on the ground, citing police autopsy reports.
The four were to meet an informant when they were seized by about 20 to 25 rebels, who are now being hunted.
“They were burned like [by] Isis, that’s why I got mad,” Duterte said, using the acronym of the Islamic State-inspired group.
Duterte, who visited the wake of the officers over the weekend, said he only wanted the head and not the body of the leader of the killers because a complete body would only be lionized by activists.
Five days after the killing of the policemen, lawyer Anthony Trinidad was gunned down by motorcycle-riding gunmen while he was driving his car in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental, on July 23.
Tagged as NPA supporter
Trinidad was earlier tagged as a supporter of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) by a group calling itself Kawsa Guihulnganon Batok Komunista.
Barely 48 hours after Trinidad was killed, high school principal Arthur Bayawa and his sister Ardale, an official of the Department of Education in Guihulngan, were shot in their home on July 25.
A village chief, Romeo Alipan, was also shot dead in his house 45 minutes after the attack on the siblings.
Alminaza said that the killings this week showed that there is a “total absence of peace and order” in the island and urged local leaders to act.
“Let the tolling of the church bells call us to a collective prayer, for us to beg God to touch the hearts of perpetrators, as we call on responsible government agencies to effectively address the series of deaths,” Alminaza said in his pastoral appeal.
The prelate also appealed to authorities “to protect our people.”
“Act to promote peace, not act to instill fear. Maintain peace, do not create violence. Act within the law, not beyond it,” he said. —WITH A REPORT FROM AP
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