LEGAZPI CITY – Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo on Thursday, March 3 ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol to conduct a thorough investigation into the killing of Elmer Estrellado, a suspected New People’s Army (NPA) leader, in a remote village of Bato town on Feb. 25.
Robredo said that a third party ocular inspection and investigation were proper to determine what led to the killing of Estrellado, who was tagged by the military as an NPA leader and bomb making expert of the communist movement.
He said “in the interest of objectivity I really want to know the real score whether indeed it was a legitimate encounter between Army troopers and NPA or the reported abduction of the victim.”
The present administration has a marching order on respect for human rights by the military and police and Robredo said “we will not tolerate such abuses committed by the military or any law enforcement authority for that matter.”
Robredo said the investigation would validate who is telling the truth as militant groups Bayan and Karapatan-Bicol claimed there were witnesses who could testify that the victim was abducted by unidentified armed men around 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 25 at a public place in Malilipot, Albay.
However, the military version says the victim was killed in an encounter around 6:30 a.m. Friday with Army soldiers in Barangay Bulwang, Bato town in Camarines Sur.
Lt. Col Ernest Cruz, commanding officer of the Army’s 42nd Infantry Battalion said they have a Sangguniang Barangay Council resolution attesting that there was an encounter that occurred in the village.
The investigation called for by Robredo would dismiss speculations and straighten conflicting reports about the incidents.
Robredo visited last week the wake of Police Inspector Al Lhanza Tantiado of Libon, Albay, a member of the PNP Regional Mobile Group operating in Northern Samar.
Tantiado was the lone fatality when a group of policemen escorting Mayor Rolando Evardone of Arteche town in Eastern Samar was ambushed by suspected communist rebels.