The mayor of Loreto town in Agusan del Sur and his son were found dead on Tuesday morning, just about 12 hours after they were forcibly taken by armed men from their house in Butuan City.
The bodies of Mayor Dario Otaza, 53, and his 27-year-old son, Daryl, were found in Purok 2, Barangay Bitan-ag, Butuan City, past 6 a.m. on Tuesday.
The victims were found hogtied and bore multiple gunshot wounds, police said.
The Butuan City police chief, Senior Supt. Francisco Dungo, said pursuing soldiers and policemen also found the black Hyundai Strarex van that was used in the crime.
Police said the victims were taken by armed men who went to their house in Barangay Baan and reportedly identified themselves as agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Supt. Martin Gamba of the Caraga regional police office said around 18 heavily-armed men barged into the mayor’s house and overpowered his four bodyguards who were then tied up.
They then forced the mayor and his son inside the van (KDG 179) and sped toward Barangay Mahay.
Gamba said the armed men also took several guns from the mayor’s residence.
The area’s barangay captain reportedly noticed the commotion and tried to confront the armed men.
“I went to the house of Mayor Otaza and noticed four armed men outside. I introduced myself and they said they were members of the NBI,” Jeremiah Café said
No one claimed responsibility for the incident but authorities said they suspect the New People’s Army to be behind the killing.
Major Gen. Oscar Lactao, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, said Otaza, a former member of the New People’s Army (NPA) who belongs to the Manobo tribe, managed to convince 246 rebels to return to the fold of the law.
“The killing of Mayor Otaza and his son is pure and blatant execution. This is another lumad [indigenous people]killing purposely to sow threat and violence among the peace-loving lumad and the Filipino people as a whole,” he added.
Lactao said Otaza, a member of the Provincial Tribal Council, “liberated” his town from NPA influence.
“He was successful in encouraging 246 NPA leaders and members, majority of whom were lumad, to surrender and return to their normal and peaceful lives. Under his leadership, development has started to set in in his town of Loreto, benefiting his constituents. It is clear that the NPA does not want our people to taste peace and development,” he noted.