CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 27 Jul) Three suspected New People’s Army gunmen shot dead a peasant leader in front of his family in the farming town of Salay in Misamis Oriental province in the southern Philippines, security officials said on Thursday.
The gunmen opened fire on Nestor Ladica just outside his houses in the village ofLooc on Wednesday, said Col. Francisco Simbajon, a spokesman for the Army’s 4th Infantry Division.
“He was killed by suspected members of the NPA’s Sparrow unit. Ladica was a former member of the NPA. Authorities are still investigating the killing,” he told the Zamboanga Journal.
Other reports said the 43-year old victim was the leader of the Misamis Oriental Farmers’ Association. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but militant groups were quick to blame the military for the killing.
Simbajon denied the allegations and blamed the NPA for the attack. “It could be an NPA purge or vengeance. The NPA should answer the accusations,” he said.
More than 700 militants and leaders of progressive political groups allied with the Communist Party of the Philippines have been killed in the Philippines the past five years.
The CPP also blamed the military for the killings of mostly Bayan (Nation) members. The military previously accused Bayan – formed in May 1985 mostly by peasants, but now claims to have more than a million members across the Philippines – as having links with the New People’s Army, CPP’s armed wing.
Bayan Muna became the coordinating center for open mass mobilizations against President Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship. It led big demonstrations and rallies across the country, protesting the rule of Marcos until his downfall in 1986.
It also joined the people revolution that led to the ouster of President Joseph Estrada and catapulted then Vice President Gloria Arroyo into power.But Bayan is also now at the forefront of a growing protest against Arroyo, who was accused by the opposition and other militant groups of poll fraud in the May 2004 national elections.
Aside from Bayan, a similar militant group called Bayan Muna (Nation First), also accused the military of assassinating its members around the country. It said a total of 88 Bayan Muna members were killed since April 2001 up to April this year.
It was not immediately known how many members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan were killed by assassins.
Military authorities denied soldiers were involved in the attacks against Bayan and Bayan Muna and blamed rival factions and squabble among militants for the killings.