Cagayan mayor shot dead

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Monday, April 21, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- At least 15 communist rebels disguised as policemen fatally shot the mayor of Gonzaga town in Cagayan province during a flag-raising ceremony Monday morning, officials said.

Military commander Major Emmanuel Garcia said Gonzaga town Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. and his two bodyguards died on the spot after the shooting.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) confirmed that the assailants are members of the New People's Army (NPA) based on the evidences recovered in the crime scene.

Cagayan Regional Director Police Chief Superintendent Miguel Laurel said after Pentecostes was shot dead, the rebels scattered several pieces of leaflets with writings saying "justice for all, punish the brains of the illegal mining operations by foreigners in Cagayan."

Laurel said a police officer named only as Agustin heard the armed men saying in dialect: “Pasensiya na kayo sir wala kayong kasalanan, si Mayor lang ang may kasalanan.”

Laurel said three police officers, who were manning traffic before the shooting incident, were ordered by the gunmen to drop their firearms.

"The armed men tied the three police officers, carted their firearms and used the PNP patrol car as their getaway vehicle," Laurel said.

Provincial police chief Gregorio Lim said police are pursuing the gunmen and are looking into the possibility that the killing was related to communist rebels' opposition to mining activities.

Personnel of 2nd Regional Public Safety Battalion (2RPSB), Gonzaga Police Station, and Cagayan Provincial Police Office (CPPO), are now conducting ground pursuit operations to arrest the suspects.

The rebels have been fighting for 45 years against government forces and mining companies, accusing them of failing to improve the lives of the poor. (Third Anne Peralta/AP/Sunnex)

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