Army vows justice for slain businessman

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID) has vowed to launch relentless operations to seek justice for the death of a businessman in Toboso, Negros Occidental, a day after New Year on January 2.

According to the police, 43-year-old Juvinie Sarona was shot dead when five of the 15 perpetrators stormed his house in Barangay Bug-ang and also burned their family’s tractor last Tuesday.

Two days after the incident, the New People’s Army (NPA) claimed the attack, as they tagged the victim as an alleged leader of a gun-for-hire group and involved in land grabbing in the town.

The Army condemned Sarona’s death, which they considered a tragic incident.

“We assured the family of the 3ID’s support in seeking justice, as relentless operations will be launched to haunt the perpetrators,” said Major General Marion Sison, 3ID commander in a statement.

Sarona engaged in buying and selling sugarcane trucks, and was known for his strong support of government peace and development initiatives and collaboration with the military and police in anti-insurgency campaigns, the Army said.

He also employed former NPA rebels in his furniture shop and other business ventures to help them return to mainstream society with their families, according to the Army.

The Army tagged the remnants of the Northern Negros Front (NNF), Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor (KR-NCBS) as responsible for the incident.

Sison extended his deepest sympathy to Sarona’s grieving family, as he strongly condemned the “ruthless” act.

He encouraged them to file a complaint against the NPA for violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

“We should not be cowed and intimidated by this incident,” Sison said.

Sison said that with Sarona’s death, the NPA believed that it would be much easier for them to recover their lost mass bases and rebuild their mass organizations, especially in geographically isolated areas, Sison said.

“We should not allow the NPA to again re-establish their influence and presence in our communities,” he added.

Police said they have already identified some perpetrators in the incident, adding that they were part of the same group that was behind the killings in Calatrava town.