MURDER charges are being prepared by policemen against 11 persons, including two minors, who were allegedly behind the killing of reelectionist Councilor Jolomar Hilario in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental on March 31.
Police Major Junji Liba, town police chief, said the suspects who were reportedly fleeing from their hideout were intercepted by members of the 2nd platoon of the Negros Occidental Provincial Mobile Force Company (Nocpmfc) during clearing operations in Barangay Sebucauan, Isabela town on April 1, following a clash between the military troops and New People’s Army (NPA) at Quintin Remo Village in the neighboring town of Moises Padilla.
Police refused to provide their names while the case has not been filed yet.
Liba said they were told by the suspects that they were farmers but they failed to present identification cards to prove their identities. Thus, they were invited by the police for questioning and profiling.
Liba said three of them were positively identified by witnesses while another was also identified by the victim’s wife as suspects behind the death of Hilario.
Early Sunday, Hilario was attacked by about 50 alleged NPAs while he was sleeping inside his residence in Barangay Inolingan. He was killed in front of his wife and children.
Liba said the remaining seven persons will also be included in the filing of the case as accessories to the crime.
However, it still depends on the fiscal’s decision, he added.
The town police chief said there’s a possibility that additional charges will also be filed against them for alleged robbery after they learned that there were missing items inside the victim’s house when the attack happened, but they have yet to do a final inventory on it.
This is a good development on Hilario’s murder case, Liba said, adding that he considered the case solved.
But, despite their arrest, Liba said they will continue to monitor their other colleagues who are still at large.
Justice has been partially served, he said.
When asked about the motive of the killing, he said they are eyeing three angles.
It could be politically motivated because of the intense political rivalry in the town, especially since Hilario was identified under the line-up of reelectionist Mayor Magdaleno Peña, who reportedly helped facilitate in the apprehension of National Democratic Front (NDF) consultant and secretary Francisco Fernandez, Liba said.
It could also be something more personal which triggered the Reds to launch offensive attack against him, he continued.
Liba said Hilario had also received a previous threat during the barangay elections.
They disregarded the issue of illegal drugs despite the previous arrest of Hilario for illegal drug use in 2016, because he already underwent reformation.
Meanwhile, Brigadier General Benedict Arevalo, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, said all 1,740 residents from two villages in Moises Padilla have returned to their houses yesterday afternoon after they evacuated on April 1, following the clash of military troops with the rebels in Barangay Quintin Remo while conducting pursuit operations against armed men behind Hilario’s slay.
These residents were gathered for a pulong-pulong first and were told what they should do if rebels will come to their houses, he said.
Arevalo said all of them are safe and everything is normal now in the town.
On the other hand, a peace covenant signing was held in the town yesterday to pledge for a peaceful local and midterm elections next month.
On the other hand, Arevalo denied the statement of the Leonardo Panaligan Command of NPA that 24 soldiers were killed when they allegedly ambushed military troops in Moises Padilla town last Monday.
It is not true, he said.
Arevalo said the more they make such allegation, the more it shows that they really have more casualties during the clash.
We had one wounded soldier but he is doing okay now and was discharged from the hospital after sustaining a minor injury, he said.
It was just part of the NPA’s propaganda against the government, which is not supposed to be given much attention, he said. (GYM)