Shoot to kill

YESTERDAY the communists in the Philippines commemorated their foundation in 1968. The series of attack against military target is normal as the party’s way of making the nation and the authorities know that they are still around and a capable force. The Armed Forces of the Philippines expected this kind of operation annually, the reason why we are surprised that the NPA was able to assault a military out in Samar with fatalities on the government side.

How could they have been surprised when the army knows that the communists launch this kind of operation every year? Was their outpost commander sleeping and there was no sentry?

President Duterte, their commander in chief had issued a “shoot to kill” order and surely the army knows that the NPA will not sit idly by and wait to be shot at. They took the initiative not only to deliver a message but also to celebrate. The communists declared a truce but must have withdrawn it when the government refused to recognize it.

But while the army has not been reported to have implemented the “shoot to kill” order, some groups are already into it. Bacolod Councilor Ricardo Tan and his wife Nita were ambushed last weekand this was followed by the killing of the deputy chief of police of Guihulngan City. Unlike the Tan couple who survived the rain of bullets, the deputy chief was killed with only a couple of slugs.

In both cases the perpetrators are unknown. The NPA had issued an official statement they have nothing to do with the Guihulngan killing but they have not issued a disclaimer on the attempt on the life of the Tan couple. This is surprising but even the police think the style of the ambush did not have the NPA trademark. I guess this is the reason the NPA is silent in this case.

Friday evening a Bacolod lawyer was ambushed in Talisay City. The driver, Efren Palmares was killed but the lady lawyer, Erfedel Castillo, survived with injuries. She just arrived from Manila on board a delayed plane that landed past 10:30 in the evening at the airport in Silay and was on her way to Bacolod when the killers struck.

The unknown killers were reported to have followed their targets from the airport until they crossed the boundary of Silay and Talisay and shot the victims.

The area was dark. Local governments reportedly are at odds as to who will install, maintain and pay for the electricity. So this portion of the oft-lauded portion of the Bacolod-Silay diversion road is dark and had been a dangerous place to travel at night. I don’t use this road after sundown because it is a favorite spot for robbers, pranksters who throw stones at vehicles and, now for ambush.

Atty. Erfe Del Castillo was injured on the right shoulder and a bullet crease on the head and will be able to help identify the culprits.

Reports say that Del Castillo is the lawyer of Francis Rey Cabuga who was involved in the conflict with his wife concerning control of the Metro Inn Hotel in Bacolod City and thatDel Castillo had filed charges against the police who disarmed the security guards of Francis Cabuga during the confrontation.

Reports also say that Del Castillo suspects the police to have staged the ambush. When she recovers from her wounds, she would be able to give more information.

Considering the circumstances the police are the first suspects but that has to be proven. At least in this case the police have some leads to work on – a possible motive although the attack could be due to other reasons other than her recent legal engagement.

Fortunately Del Castillo survived otherwise she would have been the third lawyer in Negros to die by the gun.

Following the Del Castillo ambush, Party List Representative Rodel Batocabe and his escort were killed in Bicol. A P30-million reward money was raised by congressmen; that will help. Offhand, the police claim the killings were politically-motivated.That seems obvious because Batocabe is running for mayor. The next day, a former mayor in Cotabato was killed.

Reacting to the killing of Batocabe, Vice President Leni Robredo asked whether the succession of killings and the daily fatalities in the anti-illegal drug campaign are the “new normal.”

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