BAGUIO CITY – A candidate for Sangguniang Bayan or local legislative council in Baay-Licuan town in Abra was killed by communist kadres of the New People’s Army Tuesday afternoon over his alleged refusal to pay a P20,000.00 permit-to-campaign fee in areas controlled by the rebels.
Crispin Maguelang, circumstances unknown, was abducted by NPA rebels from his house in barangay Dominglay, Baay-Licuan and taken to the remote village of Bayabas, Malibcong town, where he was shot several times by two still unidentified rebels, according to Cordillera Police Director Chief Supt. Ulysses Abellera.
The killing was supposedly the first of its kind perpetrated by the NPA guerrilas over fees collected from politicians campaigning for votes in supposed-rebel-held “territories.”.It came a day before Philippine National Police chief Director General Ricardo Marquez visited Abra, which had earlier been declared as among the country’s election “hot spots”.
Quoting reports from the military stationed in Licuan-Baay and Malibcong, Ulysses said that Maguelang was attending a wedding reception when the rebels took him and brought him to the house of a certain Estimo Balug, where he was summarily executed gangland style.
It will be recalled that former Roman Catholic priest, the rebel leader Fr. Conrado Balweg of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army, was killed by a communist hit man in his house in Malbcong sometime in 2000.
A letter was reportedly left by the rebels to the Bayabas barangay chair, but a copy was not available and its content was not disclosed.
Maguelang’s body was initially brought to barangay Buneg in nearby Lacub town and later to the capital town Bangued. It was not clear who retrieved the body and why it was taken to Bangued, not to the victim’s hometown.
La Paz town Mayor Joseph Sto Nino Bernos, the victim’s political ally in the National Unity Party, who is running for representative in Abra’s lone congressional district, condemned the killing and questioned the motive of the murder.
“His death is not justifiable,” the town mayor said. He enjoined Abrenians to work for peace in the midst of such challenges.
Four months ago, Bernos’ closest political aide, Noel Belena, was gunned down by unknown assailants while on his way home in La Paz. No arrest has been made or suspects have been identified in Belena’s killing.
The Abra-based Agustin Begnalen Command of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA has not issued a statement regarding Maguelang’s murder.
However, Abellera said military sources have indicated that Maguelang was killed because he had committed “sins” against the rebel group. He did not elaborate. Thom Picana/northboundasia.com