NPA: Mayor, son punished for ‘counter-revolutionary’ activities
TANDAG CITY—Communist rebels killed Loreto town Mayor Dario Otaza and his son because of their alleged counter-revolutionary activities, a rebel spokesperson said.
Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the Southern Mindanao Regional Command of the New People’s Army, in a statement said the operation was a punishment against the Otazas, whom he described as warlords.
“Revolutionary justice prevailed when the Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command of the New People’s Army authorized the imposition of a standing order and punished warlords Mayor Dario Otaza and Daryl Otaza to give justice to the thousands of indigenous peoples and peasants terrorized by their tyranny in Loreto and surrounding municipalities in Agusan del Sur,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said their operatives from the Davao region posed as elements of the National Bureau of Investigation and took captive Otaza and his 27-year-old son Daryl from their house in Barangay Baan in Butuan City on Oct. 19.
The NPA rebels were also able to cart away high powered firearms including four Bushmaster rifles, an AK47 rifle, an AK2000 rifle and four handguns.
“The NPA operatives found the Otazas in possession (of) some P25,000 which had been secured and shall be turned over to their family through a third party at the soonest possible time,” Sanchez added.
Sanchez claimed that the Otazas committed acts that were considered war crimes and crimes against humanity that are punishable by death.
The rebel leader accused the Otazas of torturing and killing lumads and civilians, including Benjie Planos in Barangay Kauswagan on Sept. 13, 2013; Gabriel Alindao on Oct. 10, 2013; Romeo Wagas and Willy Gabisan on Oct. 26, 2013, and Gerry Villamo on Sept. 10, 2014.
Sanchez claimed that both were also involved in the cases of multiple frustrated murder and robbery against residents in Km 16 in Datu Davao, Loreto town on Sept. 9, 2014, which were “perpetrated by Bukakang Banggaan and certain Augit and Intoy, members of the Otaza-created Taptap paramilitary group.”
“Arson and destruction of the homes of the farmers in Brgy. Kauswagan by Otaza’s paramilitary men: Mariel Dioganon, Aki Dioganon, Jordan Dioganon, Abdon Dioganon, Abdon Sinkok, Peping Maambib and Loloy Cedilla in 2013,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez added that there was also an intensification of military operations “jointly conducted by Otaza’s Bagani forces and the 26th infantry Battalion Philippine Army under Oplan Bayanihan which resulted in gruesome rights abuses against the lumad population.”
The abuses included torture, hamletting, blockades, forced evacuation, destruction of agricultural lands, and the closure of two community-based learning centers.
The alleged violations also include “espionage, murder, and gross violations of international humanitarian law pertaining to the rights of hors de combat: On Sept. 5, 2009, two of Otaza’s intelligence operatives infiltrated NPA units based in Loreto bearing poisoned food which rendered NPA troops unconscious and defenseless. Otaza operatives then relentlessly fired at the incapacitated NPA troops resulting in the deaths of four NPA fighters, capture of one NPA fighter and other casualties.”
“This carnage was planned and executed by the elder Otaza, who was acting as NCIP provincial chieftain together with Captain Gusi, officer of MIG-4th Infantry Division. The act was part of the AFP ‘s Task Force Gantangan, a major component of the Oplan Bantay Laya 2, the centerpiece of which is the perversion of the lumad Bagani culture,” Sanchez said.
“Military counter-insurgency and paramilitarism have been continued by Otaza when he became mayor of Loreto in 2010 and has since marked his reprieved leadership. Otaza’s Bagani force and the 26th IB continued their atrocious reign through forcible arrests, fake NPA surrenders, arbitratry detention, psychological warfare, harassment, threats against the families of the NPA even after entering an agreement brokered by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte with the evacuees that no retaliatory attacks will be waged against them upon their return from evacuation in August 2013,” the rebel leader added.
Sanchez said the Otazas were also involved in allegedly forcing lumads to join paramilitary groups.
“Over the last four years, the Otazas have strengthened their fascist rule as staunch lapdogs and implementors of the US-Aquino Oplan Bayanihan despite repeated warnings and appeals by the suffering masses to stop their atrocious acts,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez asserted that the Otazas were legitimate targets because they already have waived their rights after they participated in “counter-revolutionary” activities.
“In refusing to rectify to reform to nonviolent civilian governance, they continued to employ and arm paramilitary and bagani troops to secure and fortify their oppressive and bureaucrat-capitalist rule. Hence, the Otazas de facto waived all their rights as civilians making themselves legitimate military targets by the NPA,” Sanchez said.
“Meanwhile, Daryl Otaza, aside from directly participating in the commission of the above-mentioned crimes, was a notorious drug lord, illegally dealing prohibited drugs in Loreto and surroundings areas,” he added.
Capt. Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the military’s 4th Infantry Division, said the incident and attack was foul.
“Killing is never a solution. And why would they even involve Otaza’s child?” Martinez commented.
The Otazas were taken from their home in Butuan City on Oct. 19. Their bodies were found in a remote village the morning after.
Based on the number of gunshot wounds and the manner of the execution, Martinez said it could be considered as a hate crime.
Otaza, a former rebel, had been very vocal in his campaign against the communist movement. Karlos Manlupig/RC
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