NPA owns up slay of MisOr town councilor

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Sunday, August 24, 2014


HOURS after the military dismissed the possibility that the New People’s Army (NPA) could have executed Opol Councilor Cecilio Abuhan, the communist guerillas owned up Abuhan’s slay for his alleged anti-people and anti-revolutionary activities in his area.

In a statement sent through email to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Friday night, the regional command of the NPA in North Central Mindanao Region (NCMR) admitted that a team of five rebels shot to death Abuhan around 3 p.m. in Barangay Bagocboc, Opol, Misamis Oriental.

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Earlier on Friday, the Philippine Army 4th Infantry Division (4ID) spokesman, Major Christian Uy, told the media the NPA rebels were not responsible for the slaying of Abuhan, citing the NPA’s influence in Opol is not as strong as the other areas in the province.

In the statement, the NPA underscored the public's knowledge of Abuhan's "dictator-like leadership and ruthless" ways toward the residents of Bagocboc and nearby villages.

Allan Juanito, NPA-NMCR spokesman, said the Maoist rebels executed Abuhan because of his terror-laden leadership, adding that executing him was a way to give justice to those whose rights he (Abuhan) had stepped on.

According to a source close to the family, Abuhan was also known to be a staunch anti-revolutionary movement advocate.

"Honestly, on my part, I am partly relieved now that he's gone because of his abusive ways. Several people in our neighborhood did not speak up of their sentiments because they feared of his capabilities," the source, who requested not to be named for fear of reprisal, told Sun.Star Saturday.

In a previous interview, Misamis Oriental Provincial Administrator Edmundo Pacamalan Jr. said that Abuhan had been receiving complaints for maltreatment of his constituents, but that it happened years ago.

The NPA's statement added: "We hope that no civilian residents will be blamed of Abuhan's death. Every time the NPA conducts armed offensives, the Philippine Army and the police [are] so quick to chase innocent individuals."

In a television interview, Abuhan's wife Margielen, Bagocboc chair, said her husband had been receiving death threats a month ago.

"My husband's been so good to his people especially in the hinterlands. Politics may have cost his life," Margielen said.

Opol police said the victim was shot dead while he was on board a motorcycle traversing the roads of Sitio Inayaw in Bagocboc from Barangay Tungalan.

The Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) recovered a total of 11 empty shells from a .45 caliber and .9 mm gun at the crime scene.

Dr. West Edquila, Soco team leader, said the victim succumbed to four gunshot wounds on the back of his head, one on his neck's left side and one on the chest.

On Friday, the 4ID told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro via text message said that Abuhan's death is politically motivated based on the testimony of the family and not the handiwork of the rebel group considering their weak influence in the area.

However, Uy clarified the earlier statement wasn’t conclusive.

"We do not confirm nor deny the rebels did it since we also have to validate further," Uy said Sunday afternoon.

The NPA, in its statement, cited reports that residents in the area have been complaining against Abuhan for his alleged maltreatment, murder, arson, and extortion.

"Complaints against him have been piling up, but nothing had progressed in the hands of the Opol police… For many years, the residents of Bagocboc have been living in silence because of fear," the statement read.

The NPA added: "We hope that what happened to Abuhan will serve as a warning to officials to stop impeding the revolutionary works. You still have chances to reform especially doing heartily services to the people."

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 25, 2014.

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