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NPA admits killing Tarlac mayoral bet

TARLAC CITY—A leader of communist rebels operating in Central Luzon has admitted responsibility for the murder of a mayoral candidate in San Jose town in Tarlac last week.

The candidate, Rudy Abella, was not only a former policeman but a leader of the dreaded “Monkees” in the 1970s, Jose Agaton, spokesperson of the New People’s Army’s (NPA) Josefino Corpus Command in Central Luzon, said in a statement sent by e-mail to the Inquirer.

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The Monkees were goons of Tarlac politicians in the late 1960s to the 1970s. They included some policemen.

Abella, along with his vice mayoral candidate, Judy Laurzano, also the village chief of Iba, was in a caucus at 5 p.m. on May 6 when two men with .45-cal. and 9mm pistols approached him and shot him at close range. Three other men served as lookout.

Abella, 65, who had served as village chief of Burgos for the past 11 years, was challenging the reelection bid of Mayor Jose Yap Jr., brother of Tarlac Gov. Victor Yap.

The NPA statement said Abella’s group was a “private army” of political warlords who had been involved in cases of massacre, rape, looting, robbery and other crimes.

Agaton said Abella was sentenced to die and punished by members of the NPA’s Nelson Mesina Command for what he described as “sins of the past.”

In a press briefing in Tarlac on Monday, President Aquino said he was informed by police that the initial investigation on Abella’s murder showed that the motive might not be election-related.

The President said the police had a suspect and witnesses, and that “to relate the incident to the elections at this point was speculative.”

In Mindanao, the NPA found itself releasing “arrested individuals,” including soldiers and policemen, after clearing them of suspicions of involvement in “antirevolutionary” activities. But it stopped short of apologizing to its captives or their families.

The communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) in southern Mindanao said it had ordered the NPA to release a police escort of Compostela Valley Gov. Arturo Uy it had “taken into custody” after flagging down the official’s convoy at a roadblock in the province on April 28.

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Pfc. Jesus Tomas of the Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion and SPO2 Allan Pansoy, who was taken out of Uy’s convoy, are to be freed after the NPA did not find enough evidence to indict them, Rubi del Mundo, NDF spokesperson, said.

Del Mundo said the exact date of releases would be determined by the military’s compliance with the NPA demand for suspension of all offensives in the towns of Maco, Mabini, Nabunturan, Mawab and Pantukan. “These towns were being considered as release sites,” she said.

The announcement on the impending releases came barely a day after PO3 Maula Ali of the Arakan, North Cotabato police was set free near Bukidnon.

In April, the rebels released PO3 Ruben Nojapa Jr., who was seized while reporting for work in Nabunturan town on March 18, and seven militiamen they took in Agusan del Sur for “not having committed any serious offense against the people and the revolution.”

A few days earlier, two policemen from Loreto town in Agusan del Sur—PO1 Nemuel España and PO2 Allan Muñez—made a daring escape from an NPA camp after engaging their captors in a brief firefight.

In February, the NPA freed Pfc. Jezreel Culango and PO1 Ruel Pasion, who were both abducted in Laak, Compostela Valley. With a report from Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: 2013 elections, Insurgency, News, NPA, poll violence, Regions
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