Politicians or rebels? Authorities look into Negros Occ ambush
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Authorities are investigating if the killing of 9 people in Negros Occidental on Sunday, January 27, has something to do with the upcoming elections or the rebel groups.
Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr., commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, told Rappler they are still gathering information about the attack in La Castellana town that killed 9 and injured at least 2, but said they are not discounting the possibility that it may be related to the elections.
He described Negros Occidental province as an "election hotspot."
The military did not identify the rural mountain town of La Castellana in its list of election hotspots for the 2013 midterm elections. Included in its list are the cities of Escalante, Cadiz, Victorias, Himamaylan, Sipalay and the towns of Manapla, Toboso, Calatrava, Moises Padilla, Binalbagan and Ilog.
Mabanta said they are also verifying information that the ambush was done by members of the New People's Army.
A group of unidentified men ambushed on Sunday morning a vehicle containing members of the Philippine National Police La Castellana and Brgy. Peace Action Team. About 30 heavily-armed gunmen opened fire on them, said Chief Inspector Rico Santotome.
One police was killed, while another was injured. Seven civilians died and another one sustained wounds. The attack happened around dawn. The victims have finished securing a town fiesta in Brgy. Puso Proper, La Castellana when their truck was flagged down about 100 meters from the town proper.
Santotome said the suspects instructed the children to alight from the truck and then fired at the victims. "They wanted to finish them off, especially the policeman. They shot him in the head to make sure he was dead," said Santotome.
Mabanta said a task force has been formed to probe the incident. "We are coordinating with the police," he said. - Rappler.com, Agence France-Presse