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Philippines: Senate alarmed by resurgence of killings

by AJLPP Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008 at 5:32 PM
ajlpp_socal@yahoo.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

Senate leaders yesterday raised the alarm over the apparent resur-gence of extra-judicial killings in the country, taking to task the Philippine National Police (PNP) in containing the situation before it gets worse. Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., in condemning the killing of Fr. Rey Roda, OMI in Sulu, and the abduction of teacher Omar Taub during a raid on a church-run school, also warned authorities that the case had already raised tension in the province.

Philippines: Senate alarmed by resurgence of killings

By Angie M. Rosales

01/17/2008

Manila---Senate leaders yesterday raised the alarm over the apparent resur-gence of extra-judicial killings in the country, taking to task the Philippine National Police (PNP) in containing the situation before it gets worse.

Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., in condemning the killing of Fr. Rey Roda, OMI in Sulu, and the abduction of teacher Omar Taub during a raid on a church-run school, also warned authorities that the case had already raised tension in the province.

“The culprits should be penalized immediately. Otherwise, guns, not law, will be there and it will be bad for Muslims and Christians alike,” he stressed.

Roda and Taub were both initially kidnapped by gunmen who forced their way into a convent at the Notre Dame School in a remote island of Tawi-Tawi province late Tuesday.

The priest was later shot dead as the gunmen exchanged fire with police who tried to rescue the hostages.

“The reports indicated that Father Roda resisted and he was gunned down and killed,” regional police chief Joel Goltiao said.

Goltiao added Roda prevented the gunmen from looting the convent before they left the building with Roda and Taub.

The suspects, probably a criminal gang, according to police, fled with the teacher.

The police initially hinted that the suspects were members of the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group while

the Moro Islamic Liberation Front condemned the killing, saying the murder is an indication of the worsening situation in the country.

Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan, for his part, denounced the reported death of another judge as he called on the PNP hierarchy to take appropriate steps to stop the apparent series of attacks against members of the judiciary.

“It is disquieting how those who are turning the wheels of justice in this country fall victims to injustices, he said, referring to the death of Calbayog City Regional Trial Court Branch 32 Judge Roberto Natividad.

“This latest murder is the 15th assassination since 1999 and we have yet to see a concrete response from the PNP,” he noted.

Natividad was shot and killed by a still unidentified assailant using a .45 cal. pistol last Monday in Calbayog, Samar province.

He had reportedly been receiving death threats since last year.

After the shooting, the gunman fled on foot toward Barangay Balud, 400 meters away from the crime scene.

The police are considering the victim’s work as one of the motives for the murder, and a political angle after Natividad had an altercation with a congressional candidate in Samar last year.

“The buck stops with the PNP to resolve this case swiftly and arrest the perpetrators. The courts must now protect their members by swiftly resolving the case and ensuring that the guilty are punished. Only with a higher conviction rate can we restore fear in the hearts of would be criminals and regain a greater respect for the rule of law,” Pangilinan said.

In Zamboanga City, combined military and police forces are pursuing the gunmen believed to be members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf bandits that killed Roda and seized Taub.

Marine Battalion Landing Team-2 chief Lt. Col. Arthur Larin has deployed troops to track down the fleeing bandits dragging along with them Taub.

Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Nelson Allaga has ordered Larin to coordinate with the Tawi-Tawi policemen that also launched pursuit operations for coordinative efforts to arrest the bandits and rescue the Notre Dame high school teacher.

“This only shows that this armed group does not respect any religion and continues to bring chaos in this part of the country,” Allaga said.

Aside from the ground troops, personnel from the Naval Task Force 62 which has operational jurisdiction over the 107 islands and islets of Tawi-Tawi, are also scouring the sea waters around the province in pursuit of the gunmen.

Westmincom information officer Maj. Eugenio Batara, Jr. disclosed that there had been a previous kidnapping attempts on prominent personalities by the Abu Sayyaf bandits but was successfully foiled by the military and police operatives.

He was the third Roman Catholic missionary under the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo that covers the provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The first was Bishop Benjamin De Jesus who was killed by still unidentified gunman in 1997 in the town of Jolo, the capital of Sulu province.

Another Roman Catholic missionary, Fr. Benjie Inocencio, was also killed by unidentified gunman three years after Bishop De Jesus’ killing, also in Sulu, where troops are continuously pursuing the remaining leaders and members of the Abu Sayyaf group. Gina Peralta-Elorde, PNA and AFP

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