CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur – Suspected NPA rebels have ended the International Humanitarian Law Month with a series of extra-judicial killings victimizing mostly civilians around the Bicol Region, a military report said.
The latest victim of the NPA’s cold-blooded murder was Joaquin Candea, 60, of Cogon Village, Bulusan town in Sorsogon. Candea was gunned down by the NPA’s hitmen at around 2:15pm yesterday, Sabang village.
The killing of Candea occurred a day after the deadly ambush (August 28, Saturday) which claimed the lives of 5 civilians including an incumbent councilor in Masbate. The victims were waylaid by suspected NPA rebels who were utilized by political opponents to eliminate their rivals in San Pascual town in Masbate.
Also last week, on August 26 (Thursday), a certain Virgilio Sus, 51, was also brutally murdered by known NPA rebels identified as Angel and Jerome Gracilla who came to their house together with 4 other bandits, at around 6:00am in Danao village in Bulan Sorsogon.
Sus’s brother named Arnel, was also critically wounded but survived after being brought to a local hospital in Sorsogon City. He and other witnesses pinpointed to the Gracilla brothers as among the bandits who carried out the gruesome crime.
The NPA rebels have not spared even women as they attempt to sow fear among the local populace.
On May 24, 2010, Imelda Madrilejos y Velasco, 42, the older sister of Private First Class Gene Velasco, was shot and killed by more or less 10 NPA rebels in Managa-naga village in Aroroy Masbate. The Jose Rapsing Command of the CPP-NPA-NDF in Masbate claimed responsibility for the killing of Madrilejos.
The second female victim was a village chieftain identified as Maritess Toldanes, 52, of Pulang Daga village in Balatan, Camarines Sur who was shot and killed by NPA rebels outside her residence on June 27, 2010.
Among the military personnel, the 22nd Infantry Battalion which administers the CAFGU personnel, suffered the most casualties due to extra-judicial killings with 8 militiamen killed this year alone.
All of the killings were perpetrated when the CAFGU personnel were on their 15-day monthly off duty status. Militiamen are not allowed to carry their firearms at home when not on the actual performance of their duties.
Colonel Leoncio Cirunay, Commander of the 22nd Infantry Battalion, said that the series of NPA killings show the degraded strength of the communist terrorist movement in the Bicol Region.
“The rebels have now engaged in plain banditry and these are all intended to rake-in money for themselves. Sowing fear among the people is seen as an effective way to force them pay the extortion demands guised as ‘revolutionary tax’,” said Cirunay.
Cirunay also cited that many civilians have fully cooperated with the military in tracking the rebels, resulting to successful tactical engagements.
“The people are now awakened by this oppressive practices by the NPA rebels. In the past weeks, civilian texters are attributed to the confiscation of firearms and the capture of notorious NPA rebels notably in Lupi Camarines Sur where 12 firearms were confiscated,” added Cirunay.
In 2009, the NPA terrorist rebels had killed 52 people in the Bicol Region. The list of the victims include 30 innocent civilians who were accused of being military informants and those who refused to pay the extortion demands.
In 2010, a total of 31 victims of extra-judicial killings were recorded. Civilian victims topped the list with 18 dead, followed by the CAFGU with 8, Philippine Army with 4 and PNP with 1.
Major General Ruperto Pabustan, Commander of the 9th Infantry Division has directed all soldiers to be vigilant against the NPA’s murderous attacks after one unarmed and off-duty soldier was killed in an ambush in Sorsogon last week.
“Don’t allow yourselves becoming victims of these treacherous attacks. It is your job to protect our people and it means that you also ensure that you protect yourselves against these extra-judicial killings by our enemies,” said Pabustan.