The military yesterday said the two suspected New People’s Army assassins, killed in an encounter Saturday with government troopers in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental, may also be among those who killed a government militiaman, in front of his wife and two children, in Isabela, Negros Occidental.
Col. Francisco Patrimonio, 302nd Infantry Brigade commander, said the slain CAFGU member, identified as Paquito Lacton, 39, was a resident of Brgy. Budlasan, Canlaon City, but was waylaid and shot dead by NPA rebels in Brgy. Makilignit, Isabela, on June 8.
The encounter between suspected communist rebels and combined CAFGU members and troopers of the 11th Infantry Battalion Alpha Company on Saturday in Sitio Natae, Brgy. Bucalan, which used to be Brgy. West Budlasan, Canlaon City, claimed the lives of two suspected rebels identified as Argie Villasan and Elmer Canete, who were tagged by the military to be members of the NPA liquidation squad of Platoon Budlas, and Army Private First Class Edmund Prieto.
Two .45 caliber pistols with four magazines containing 23 ammunition, a fragmentation grenade and subversive documents were recovered from the slain rebels.
Patrimonio said the possible involvement of Villasan and Canete in the summary execution of Lacton, before their deaths, is now being validated by the 11th Infantry Battalion.
Police had earlier reported that three of the assassins of Lacton have already been identified by a witness, who however, is afraid to testify, for security reasons.
Military records showed that last month, suspected rebel hitmen also gunned down CAFGU member Danny Quilanan in Brgy. Macagahay, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, which is adjacent to Canlaon City, Negros Oriental.
The NPA Leonardo Panaligan Command had claimed responsibility for the killing of Quilanan.
Maj. Enrico Gil Ileto, 3rd Infantry Division spokesman, yesterday said the NPA organized its Special Partisan Unit (SPARU) to kill unarmed soldiers, CAFGU members and even civilians, because they realize that they cannot wage a head-on fight with government troops.
Major General Jose Mabanta, 3rd Infantry Division commander who was saddened by the death of PFC Prieto, said in a statement that his demise was not in vain, because his contribution to the peace in Negros will definitely be remembered. * GPB