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Agusan del Sur town mayor, son found dead

Suspected communist rebels have abducted and killed an Agusan del Sur mayor who helped the government’s anti-insurgency campaign and his son, police and military officials said Tuesday.

Chief Superintendent Vert Chavez said the bodies of Mayor Dario Otaza and his 27-year-old son, Daryl Otaza, were found tied up and with multiple gunshot wounds early Tuesday in southern Butuan City, hours after suspected New People’s Army rebels disguised as government agents disarmed the mayor’s bodyguards and snatched the two from their home.

The mayor and his son were snatched from their home in the village of Baan, Butuan City, Agusan del Sur, around 6:50 p.m. Monday.

The area where the bodies were found was secured by the Army troops while waiting for the Scene of the Crime Operatives.

 

“They had security but those who took them wore NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) uniforms and pretended to be NBI so medyo nag-relax ‘yung security niya,” Cabinet Cluster on Security, Justice and Peace head Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista said.

Otaza was a former rebel who surrendered and later became mayor of southern Agusan del Sur province’s Loreto town, which he helped liberate from insurgents’ influence.

He became an outspoken critic of the communist movement and helped convince nearly 250 rebels, most of them members of his Lumad indigenous community, to surrender to the government.

Authorities are looking at Otaza’s moves to dismantle the insurgency movement as motive for the killing.

“The Philippine National Police, supported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, is intensifying operations to apprehend the perpetrators of this crime,” Bautista said.

Malacañang condemned the killings while remembering Otaza as an “invaluable partner for peace in the region.”

“His programs to ensure that former rebels have the means to lead dignified lives as part of mainstream society have encouraged many insurgents to lay down their arms. Observers have lauded the success of these programs,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

The government also hopes Otaza’s death would unite the people of Agusan del Sur, the Manobos and the entire Lumad community, and every decent Filipino “in working sincerely towards lasting, meaningful peace.” (AP/PNA)

 

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