By Hannah Papasin, Nikki Magbanua, and Julius Mariveles
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Police are now probing the brutal killing of a family that had just transferred to the upland community of Kangkiling in the mountain village of Buenavista and whose members were found dead today, 15 June 2023.
The incident was reported to have happened on the same day armed men torched heavy equipment yesterday, 14 June 2023, in the same village in Himamaylan, a city around 80 kilometers south of here.
“It was brutal,” Harry Higgins, village chief of Buenavista told DNX in describing the incident based on photos on social media as he added that he could not yet understand why the victims, Rolly, his wife, Emilda, 49, and their two sons, aged 11 and 15, had to be killed.
As this developed, an Army officer said the killing could possibly be part of attempts by Communist rebels on the run to draw away Army troops who are now hot on their heels.
“They did that in the past, they could still do it now,” Almonte said but added they, too, are still waiting for the results of the probe of the National Police.
Army Lieutenant Colonel Van Donald Almonte, told DNX the New People’s Army had resorted to this tactic in the past of killing civilians to draw away pursuing troops whenever the military is conducting focused combat operations.
The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, had suffered successive battlefield defeats since the start of the year, the latest only this week with two armed fighters found dead in the upland village of Macagahay in Moises Padilla town.
City police chief, Colonel Reynante Jomocan told DNX from the crime scene they have yet to identify the killers who entered and shot Emilda, 49,and her two sons aged 15 and 11 inside their house made of thatched bamboo in a secluded part of Painkilling.
The body of Emilda’s husband, Rolly, was found later today when police probers and soldiers arrived.
Higgins, who was interviewed as he was preparing to go to the house of the victims, said the family had just transferred to the place several months ago.
“They did not know anyone there,” Higgins said as he described them to be “poor.”
Jomocan said witnesses in the area said armed men asked a neighbor of the Fausto to guide them to their house.
It could not be known yet if the armed men were rebels or soldiers.
Higgins said he heard gunfire from his house last night that sounded like it came from the direction of Kangkiling, around 20 kilometers away from the Himamaylan proper.
Buenavista is a village of Himamaylan considered to be a hotbed of the Communist insurgency and had been the site of numerous clashes between Communist rebels and the Army.