By Martin Sadongdong
New and grim details have emerged in the apparent execution of four cops in Ayungon, Negros Oriental by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels last week as the military teamed up with the police to find and arrest the assailants.
Lieutenant General Noel Clement, commander of AFP-Central Command, said Monday that the NPA must have carried out the execution to “threaten” the locals and “take back” the village from the authorities.
“Ang barangay na ‘yon kasi is not an [NPA]-affected area but gusto nilang i-recover kaya ang ginawa nila sa pulis actually is to intimidate at takutin ang mga tao doon para sumuporta na ulit sa kanila (That barangay is not an [NPA]-affected area but they want to recover it so what they did to the cops is to actually intimidate and threaten the people to support them again),” Clement said.
Clement said the four cops sustained only one gunshot wound each in the head and the trajectory of the bullet was going down, suggesting that no ambush happened and the cops were shot either while kneeling or lying down.
“Based doon sa report ng autopsy nasa SOCO, tig-isang gunshot wound lang sila eh so they were actually executed. Practically ‘yun ang term na ginagamit ng PNP (No, there is no ambush because if that is an ambush, there would have been [more] bullet wounds on the casualties. Based on the autopsy of the [Scene of the Crime Operatives], they only had one gunshot wound each so they were actually executed),” he explained.
“Ang initial trajectory kasi is from sa taas, so most likely nakaluhod or nakadapa saka sila binaril (The initial trajectory showed the bullet came from a higher angle so most likely, they were kneeling or lying down when they were shot),” he added.
Initial police investigation said the victims responded to a citizen’s report about the presence of armed men at Barangay Mabato in Ayungon town last Thursday, July 18.
The victims were identified as Police Corporal Relebert Beronio, Patrolmen Raffy Callo, Roel Cabellon and Marquino de Leon, all members of the 704 Mobile Force Company, 7th Regional Mobile Force Battalion in Central Visayas.
However, about 20 to 25 armed men stopped them as they reached Sitio Yamot and took their guns, motorcycles, service firearms and personal belongings. The victims were eventually killed by the suspects.
Clement said they have conducted clearing operations in the area to track down the suspects.
However, he raised the possibility that the suspects must have already transferred to Negros Occidental to “lie low.”
But Clement assured that the military and police were doing their best to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Clement condemned the killing as he vowed that the military in the province will “retaliate” by capturing the suspects.
“Tingnan niyo ang difference sa kanila. Kapag may nagsurrender sa amin o may nahuli kami, we even treat them humanely, pinapagamot pa nga natin. Sa kanila kapag may mga naka-capture sa kanila, ‘yun ang ginagawa nila. It just shows actually kung anong klaseng grupo talaga itong mga ito (Look at the difference. If there are [rebels] who surrender to us or have been captured, we even treat them humanely and we send them to hospitals. On their part, if they capture somebody, that’s what they do. It just shows what kind of group they are),” he said.
“Hindi naman tayo mga inhumane or mga sadista na gagantihan natin sila ng ganun e, so what we will do is enforce the full force of the law against them and they will bear the brunt of government forces (We are not inhumane or sadists to retaliate by doing the same so what we will do is to enforce the full force of the law against them and they will bear the brunt of government forces),” he stressed.
President Duterte earlier vowed a P1-million bounty for the arrest of the killers of the cops.