Over 20 ‘communist’ rebels charged for killing 4 cops

THE Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office (Noppo) has filed four counts of murder against more than 20 communist fighters who were reportedly involved in the ambush-slay of four policemen in Ayungon town on Thursday, July 18, 2019.

Another four counts of robbery were also lodged against the suspects.

Noppo Director Raul Tacaca said the complaints were filed before the Dumaguete City Prosecutor’s Office Saturday morning, July 20.

He believes that members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), initiated the ambush that resulted in the deaths of Police Corporal Relebert Beronio, Patrolman Raffy Callao, Patrolman Roel Cabellon and Patrolman Marquino de Leon.

The fatalities were all junior non-commissioned officers of the 704th Regional Mobile Force Company (RMFC) of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 7.

“We have witnesses who helped us with the investigation. We have more than 20 identified suspects and several John Does. We believe that they (suspects) are members of the CPP-NPA,” said Tacaca.

However, the police official refused to divulge the identities of the suspects as the manhunt against them is still ongoing. The personnel of Noppo and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are going after the culprits, Tacaca said.

In a statement released by the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7, the victims were on board three motorcycles to verify reports on the presence of an armed group in the area when they were ambushed in Sitio Ilaya Yamot, Barangay Mabato.

The culprits stole the policemen’s issued firearms and personal belongings, including the motorcycles’ keys.

The victims were found lifeless on the grass; some of them were hogtied. Their deformed faces suggested they had been tortured before they were executed.

A portion of the PRO 7’s statement reads: “The PNP (Philippine National Police) vehemently denounce and condemn in the strongest sense these inhumane acts and the gross violations of human rights done by the CPP/NPA/NDF (National Democratic Front) to our troops. The long arms of the law are now stretching within and beyond its borders to catch all those who are responsible for their deaths.”

Tacaca believes the communist rebels are threatened by ongoing initiatives of the PRO 7 that could win the hearts of poor families. The PRO 7, led by its director Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas, has been conducting outreach programs and medical missions in remote areas in Negros Oriental.

He urged the Negros Oriental residents to maintain their allegiance to the government by “rejecting and denying any form of armed struggle.”

Tacaca said the families of the victims will be provided with assistance. (WBS)