Negros village chair commits ‘suicide’ following slay of 4 cops

Negros village chair commits ‘suicide’ following slay of 4 cops

DUMAGUETE CITY – The barangay chairman of Mabato in Ayungon, Negros Oriental, where four policemen were allegedly tortured and killed by suspected Communist New People’s Army rebels last week, died on Tuesday after reportedly committing suicide.

Sketchy details said Sunny Arcala Caldera, 51, married, the village chief and resident of said barangay, passed away at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Silliman University Medical Center here, a day after he was rushed after allegedly taking a poisonous chemical.

Ayungon Mayor Erwin Agustino confirmed the death of Caldera but no other details were made available at press time.

Capt. Romel Luga, police chief of Ayungon, on Monday night said a container of Karate Pesticide was recovered at the place where Caldera was temporarily staying at the town proper.

According to him, the barangay chairman was present during a meeting called for by Agustino with municipal and barangay officials, as well as the police, just hours after the deaths of the four policemen.

The meeting was aimed at coming up with resolutions and other measures to address the apparent insurgency threat in the town.

During the meeting, Caldera appeared to be “pressured” even though he was very cooperative with the authorities on the investigation regarding the killing of Corporal Relebert Beronio, Patrolman Raffy Callao, Patrolman Ruel Cabellon, and Patrolman Marquino de Leon of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 7 (RMFB7) in Sitio Ilaya Yamot, by suspected communist rebels.

But before the meeting was over, Caldera was observed to have left ahead, Luga said.

Some people went looking for him and found him around 3 p.m., lying on the floor of the house where he was staying at and already vomiting.

Mayor Agustino, in an interview recently, believes the alleged New People’s Army (NPA) rebels that are in his town were just “passing through” as these groups are usually mobile and operate across the boundaries of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental.

He said Ayungon was “peaceful” and did not have problems related to the NPA but their peace was disturbed by the murder of the four cops.

Agustino hoped that reports of an alleged expansion of an NPA guerilla base in the so-called BATMANAY (Bindoy, Ayungon, Tayasan, Manjuyod, and Mabinay) area is not true as there will definitely be consequences of intensified anti-insurgency operations.  Mary Judaline Partlow / PNA –