Rebel group to launch more attacks vs gov’t troops
DUMAGUETE CITY –– The communist insurgents based in Central Negros have vowed more offensives against government troops and their allies in response to the killings of “innocent” persons on the island.
In a statement released on Thursday night, the Leonardo Panaligan Command (LPC), which oversees the operations of the New People’s Army (NPA), condemned the killings of Dr. Mary Rose Sancelan and her husband Edwin as well as other “innocent civilians” particularly in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
“We are asking all our units to launch an offensive in an attempt to attain justice for Dr. Sancelan and other victims of alleged military abuses in the province. The NPA cannot be destroyed because of the support of the masses in Central Negros and on other islands,” said the group spokesperson, Ka JB Regalado.
Sancelan, the head of the Guihulngan City Inter-Agency Task Force against Emerging Infectious Diseases and the city’s health officer, and her husband, Edwin, were on board a motorcycle on their way home to Carmeville Subdivision in Barangay Poblacion at 5:20 p.m. last Tuesday when they were shot by one of two men on board another motorcycle that drove alongside them.
The crime happened about a year after Sancelan expressed fears over her safety after she was red-tagged by a vigilante group called “Kawsa Guihulnganon Batok Komunista” (Kagubak) or loosely translated as Concerned Guihulnganons against the Communists.
Kagubak particularly identified Sancelan as Ka JB Regalado, the spokesperson of LPC, a claim vehemently denied by the rebel group.
“The accusations [against Dr. Sancelan] are purely lies from the fascist military, police, vigilante groups like Kagubak, and even the US-Duterte regime,” Regalado said.
Guihulngan Mayor Carlo Jorge Joan Reyes has dangled a cash reward of at least P500,000 for anyone who could give authorities any information that would lead to the arrest of the persons behind the slaying of the Sancelan couple.
Guihulngan legal officer Karen Lisette Molas told the INQUIRER that the cash reward was meant to hasten the resolution of the murder of the Sancelan couple.
Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo, director of the Central Visayas police, said the Guihulngan City police were looking into all possible angles and motives in the murder of Sancelan and her husband.
“We are doing our best to solve this crime,” he said in a separate interview.
Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo ordered the provincial police acting director, Police Col. Bryant Demot, to conduct an in-depth investigation into the killing of Sancelan “to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Lieutenant Colonel Bonifacio Tecson, Guihulngan City police chief, said a task force had been formed to look into the murder of the couple.
Guihulngan, 138 km north of the provincial capital of Dumaguete City, has the most number of civilians killed in Negros Island since January 2017 based on records of human rights groups.
Clarizza Singson, secretary-general of the human rights group Karapatan in Negros, said at least 92 human rights defenders, activists, lawyers, farmers, teachers, and church workers had been killed on Negros Island since 2017.
She said at least 88 others were detained after they were arrested allegedly through trumped-up charges.
Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon joined several groups in denouncing the killing of Sancelan and her husband.
“The Diocese of Bacolod denounces all forms of extrajudicial killings. It decries indiscriminate red-tagging, and it deplores the apparent impunity among the perpetrators and enablers of this escalating violence, not just in Guihulngan City, but also in other parts of Negros Island,” the prelate said.
“The killing of a health worker at a time of great difficulty due to the pandemic is one despicable act worthy of no less than a public condemnation,” he added.
He said the Diocese of Bacolod is praying for an end to the violence while urging concerned local authorities and agencies of the government to investigate and act speedily on the resolution of the case.
“We cannot allow our society to go to the dogs. Stop the killings now,” Buzon said./With reports from Nestle Semilla, Inquirer Visayas
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