Bukidnon town mayor warned NPAs out to kill him

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Thursday, July 3, 2014


PRIOR to the killing of Impasug-ong town Mario Okinlay, he was already warned the New People's Army (NPA) rebels were out to terminate him.

Okinlay was ambushed by the Maoist's rebels after conducting a medical mission in Barangay Bontongon which is a hinterland village of the town past 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

He died three hours later.

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Major Christian Uy, Philippine Army's 4th Infantry Division (4ID) spokesperson, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro via text message that the NPA rebels fear that Okinlay's pro-people programs in his municipality's villages will render the Maoist rebels' cause irrelevant.

He added the NPA rebels have been opposing the outreach programs of Okinlay which he believes the insurgents wanted to sabotage.

"The NPAs, perhaps, don't want the government to reach [out to] the communities especially in the rural areas as their cause to win people might get forfeited," Uy said.

Uy added Okinlay’s had no programs against insurgency “but daghan siya’g programa to help alleviate the peoples' lives [in difficult situation] especially in the far-flung barangays of his town."

Three to five unidentified guerilla fighters blocked the convoy and opened fire at Okinlay around 8:20 a.m. Wednesday at sitio Kinaputan, barangay Bontongon.

The mayor died almost three hours after the incident, Uy said.

Okinlay had 10 gunshot wounds; he was the sole target of the shooting since none of his escorts of police and soldiers were reported hurt.

Troops of the 8th Infantry Battalion (8IB) and the Impasug-ong police station responded to the crime scene and brought Okinlay's body to the Malaybalay Polymedic Medical Hospital around 9:30 a.m.

Okinlay along with 20 other individuals were on their way home from Bontongon where they delivered basic services, his weekly “Hatud Serbisyo” program.

Bukidnon Governor Jose Maria Zubiri, Representative Florencio Flores Jr., and Malaybalay City Mayor Inaki Zubiri also rushed to the hospital where Okinlay was brought. The Zubiris are Okinlay's partymates under Bukidnon Paglaum.

Pursuit operations

Government soldiers are still conducting pursuit operations against the assailants at press time.

Okinlay was a supporter of peace-building programs in Bukidnon. He is the brother of Slyvia Okinlay-Paraguya, National Confederation of Cooperatives (Natcco) chief executive officer and a member of the government peace panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) during the Arroyo administration.

NPA owns killing

Meanwhile, the NPA has admitted over a radio station in Bukidnon Wednesday that one of their groups was responsible for the killing of Okinlay.

According to 1st Lieutenant Norman Tagros, Civil Military Operations chief of the 8th Infantry Battalion, the suspects belonged to the NPA’s Section Committee 89 Command-North Central Mindanao Revolutionary Command led by a certain Lorna Micabalo.

Tagros said the attackers positioned themselves 15 meters away from Okinlay on an elevated corn field which made it hard for the victim’s companions to detect.

Okinlay was surrounded by his armed escorts when the rebels opened fire.

Tagros said it took about five minutes before the law enforcers could engage the assailants as they were occupied with attending to Okinlay who was bleeding from the gunshot wounds.

There were, however, no other casualties during the brief firefight between the law enforcers and the insurgents, the rebels fled the area by jumping off a cliff, he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 03, 2014.

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