Butuan, Agusan Sur police chiefs relieved over mayor and son’s slays
BUTUAN CITY, Agusan del Sur, Philippines – The chiefs of police of this city and Agusan del Sur have been relieved of their posts, following the killing of Loreto town Mayor Dario Otaza and his son Daryl.
Supt. Martin Gamba, spokesperson of the Caraga regional police, said the Butuan City police office head, Senior Supt. Francisco Dungo, and Senior Supt. Joseph Plaza, police director of Agusan del Sur, were removed from their posts Tuesday, pending the outcome of an investigation on the purported “security and intelligence lapses” that led to the abduction and execution of Otaza and his son.
Gamba said Dungo would be investigated over purported deficiencies in monitoring rebel movements in the city and for the allegedly delayed response in going after suspects.
Plaza, meanwhile, would be probed for his apparent failure to provide enough security details for the mayor while on travel.
Although holding office in Loreto in Agusan del Sur, Otaza went home almost on a daily basis in Butuan, the place of his family’s residence.
On Monday, shortly after arriving home past 6 p.m., armed men disguised as National Bureau of Investigation agents barged into his residence and forcibly took him and his son.
The day after, the father and son were found, their hands and feet hogtied and their bodies riddled with bullets, in a remote village here.
The death of Otaza, a Manobo and a vocal critic of the communist movement, has drawn condemnation from the police, military and local politicians in the Caraga Region.
After being elected mayor in 2013, Otaza , himself a former communist rebel, became an outspoken critic of the New People’s Army, which has a strong presence in his town.
To crush the insurgency, Otaza formed a tribal militia force called Bagani, which later figured in a daring attack on a rebel camp in Loreto that left 10 rebels, including a top rebel leader, dead in 2009.
The son of that slain NPA leader, a certain Ka Tindogan, who military sources said has become the head of the NPA Front Committee 34, allegedly led the rebel team that swooped down on the mayor’s residence on Monday.
Willie Otaza, brother and executive assistant of the mayor, said he was sure those who killed his elder brother and nephew would answer for their heinous crimes.
“You’ll have your day,” Otaza said, adding that he was dead sure the atrocities were the handiwork of the rebels, who in the past publicly vowed to go after the chief executive for his ant-communist work.
Col. Alexander Macario, commander of the Army’s 401st Infantry Battalion based in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, said he was racing against time to pacify Otaza’s followers and prevent reprisal attacks.
A breakout of a bloody war between loyalists of the slain mayor and lumad perceived to be rebel supporters could happen, Macario said. SFM