NPA claims Calatrava killings

Police cordon the area in Barangay Marcelo, Calatrava, Negros Occidental, where a laborer was gunned down by suspected NPA rebels friday (Aug. 12, 2022). (File/Photo courtesy of Calatrava Municipal Police Station)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – The Roselyn Jean Pelle Command-Northern Negros Guerilla Front of the New People’s Army (RJPC-NPA) admitted to the killings of three individuals, including a village chief, in Calatrava, Negros Occidental last month.

In a press statement dated Sept. 5, RJPC-NPA spokesperson Cecil Estrella said they implemented “standing orders against criminals and counter-revolutionaries in Calatrava town issued by the revolutionary people’s court and people’s government.”

The fatalities included Renato Estrebillo, Rodel Nobleza, and Barangay Lalong Captain Benjamin Javoc.

The first incident happened on Aug. 7, killing Nobleza in Barangay Marcelo.

Estrella said that Nobleza was allegedly one of those persons responsible for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s raid against the NPA in April 2019 in the same area that killed their two comrades and a civilian.

Estrella said that Estrebillo was also punished by RJPC-NPA operatives on Aug. 12 in Barangay Marcelo.

Estrebillo reportedly tipped off operating troopers of the 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) which resulted in alleged indiscriminate firing that hurt two children and the arbitrary arrest of a civilian on July 6, 2022 in the same area.

On Aug. 26, operatives of RJPC-NPA also assassinated Javoc in Barangay Lalong, according to Estrella.

She said the NPA also raided Javoc’s house and allegedly confiscated a submachine gun with several ammunition, a cellular phone containing contact details of active 79th IB personnel, and six handheld radios.

Estrella said Javoc was an active military asset mounting an intelligence network within the barangay.

Estrella said the RJPC-NPA reviewed the cases and underwent in-depth investigation before conducting the operation.

Meanwhile, Police Lieutenant Judesses Catalogo, public information officer of Nocppo, said that murder charges were filed on Sept. 2 against seven NPA members who were identified behind the killing of Javoc.

Catalogo said that the same charges were also previously filed against the perpetrators of the two other slain civilians.

On Sept. 2, the Calatrava Municipal Peace and Order Council (MPOC) held a special meeting, following a request from the 79th IB to discuss the current situation and address the series of shooting incidents in the town.

It was discussed in the meeting that the said shooting incidents were perpetrated by the remnants of the defunct Northern Negros Front (NNF) based on the investigation of the Army.

Lieutenant Colonel J-jay Javines, 79th IB commander, provided the council members an update about the insurgency situation and made a recommendation to address the killings. This included among others the consolidated and aggressive actions of all the barangay captains to monitor the presence of armed rebels in their area and to increase the bounty intended for the arrest of the perpetrators.

Mayor Marilyn Era, chairperson of the Municipal Peace and Order Council, ordered the Calatrava Municipal Police Station to further intensify security through police visibility and checkpoints in key areas of the municipality and to closely collaborate with the Philippine Army and other concerned agencies to put an end to the killings of innocent civilians.

She assured everyone that the increasing number of random shooting incidents are being investigated and authorities are after the culprits.