>> Sunday, December 14, 2008
TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – The communist New People’s Army and political rivals are being eyed as one of those possibly responsible in the Dec. 3 killing of Rizal town in the province.
Police said they are not discounting the angle that the rebels were behind the killing of Mayor Raul de la Cruz owing to the manner in which the ambush was executed and firearms used by assailants.
The NPA has yet to confirm or deny responsibility for the slay, which also led to the death of the mayor’s three aides – Roman Gundan Jr., Jomar Baluran and Federico Canay Jr. and the wounding of four other security personnel.
Chief Supt. Roberto Damian, Cagayan Valley police director, said it was likely that the NPA or political rivals were behind the killing of the 61-year old mayor based on the description of the attack.
“(Mayor De la Cruz was) a very colorful fellow. As mayor, he created many enemies, some of them politicians, the (New People’s Army) and some of them harboring personal grudges. This makes it difficult to conclude who was responsible for his slay,” he said.
De la Cruz, who sustained gunshot wounds on the head and body, died shortly after some 20 suspects, armed with high powered firearms, including an M203 grenade launcher and AK-47 assault rifle, fired at the municipal mini-bus where he and seven aides were riding along the Tuguegarao City-Piat road in Solana town around 10 p.m. that day.
Besides the rebels, Damian said they are also considering politics or personal motives as behind the killing of the mayor and his aides, all set to go to Manila to attend a Christmas program when the incident took place.
De la Cruz’s colleagues denounced the incident, saying justice is not served putting the law into one’s hands.
“(We) condemn the killing of Mayor De la Cruz because if ever he had (committed) any (crimes or misdemeanors), we still have a justice system or court where he could have been made to answer for what he had done,” said Mayor Meynard Carag of Solana town.
In June, two of the mayor’s aides and a nephew, and three others were linked in the killing of 51-year-old retired Constabulary sergeant Elmer Baligod, reportedly a supporter of the mayor’s political rival last elections. -- CL