by Artemio A. Dumlao
BAGUIO CITY – A Sangunniang Bayan bet in Baay-Licuan town in Abra was killed by New Peoples Army guerillas Tuesday afternoon over alleged refusal to give in to the rebels’ demand for P20,000.00 permit-to-campaign fee.
Crispin Maguelang was taken by NPA rebels from his house in barangay Dominglay, Baay-Licuan to remote barangay Bayabas, Malibcong town and shot there by two still unidentified rebels.
The killing, supposedly the first execution perpetrated by the NPA over fees exacted to politicians campaigning in supposed-rebel controlled areas after the local campaign period started, came a day before Philippine National Police chief Director General Ricardo Marquez visited Abra, earlier declared as among the country’s “hotspots”.
Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Ulysses Abellera quoting reports from the military stationed in Licuan-Baay and Malibcong towns said, Maguelang was attending a wedding when the alleged rebels took him and brought him to the house of Estimo Balug where he was shot three times on the side of the victim’s abdomen.
A letter was reportedly left by the rebels to the barangay chairman in Bayabas before fleeing.
Maguelang’s body was initially brought to barangay Buneg, in nearby Lacub town and later to Bangued, Abra’s capital town.
The victim’s political ally in the National Unity Party (NUP), Abra congressional bet Joseph Sto Nino Bernos, town mayor of La Paz, immediately condemned the killing and questioned why the candidate was murdered even if he had supposed disagreements with the communist rebels. “His death is not justifiable,” the town mayor said. “We call on justice,” Mayor Bernos said, as he enjoined Abrenians to work for peace even with such challenges.
Four months ago, Mayor Bernos’ closest political aide – Noel Belena – was peppered with bullets by assassins while going home in La Paz town. No positive developments have resulted in the probe.
No official statement has been issued by the Abra-based Agustin Begnalen Command of the CPP-NPA about Maguelang’s murder, though according to Chief Supt. Abellera, the military has indicated Maguelang accordingly was taken because he had “sins from the NPA”.***Artemio A. Dumlao***