Amilitary escort was unable to save the life of a Bukidnon mayor who was killed by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who opened fire on his convoy on Monday.
Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, 4th Infantry Division (4ID) commanding officer, said Impasug-ong, Bukidnon Mayor Mario Okinlay and his escorts were on their way back to the town proper when they were ambushed by three armed men in Barangay Botongon at about 8:18 in the morning.
Visaya said the assailants were believed to be members of the South Eastern Command (Secom) 89 of the North-Central Mindanao Regional Commitee, the rebel unit that operates in the area.
The mayor, he added, was accompanied by troops of the 8th Infantry Battalion and personnel of the local government of Impasug-ong.
“The convoy of the mayor with elements of the 8th Infantry Battalion and personnel from the local government of Impasug-ong after conducting Hatid Serbisyo in Brgy. Bontongon [were]fired upon by three armed men,” Visaya said.
Okinlay was taken to the Polymedic Hospital in Bukidnon but died while undergoing medical treatment from multiple gunshot wounds.
There were no other casualties in the ambush.
Visaya earlier disclosed that one-half of the total strength of the NPA was concentrated in Mindanao, and the bulk of them or some 800 to 900 rebels were operating in the area of jurisdiction of the 4ID.
“If you look at the strength of the NPA nationwide, it is here in the area of the 4ID and the 10ID where they are strongest because almost half of the NPAs are in Mindanao,” he said.
The 4ID has jurisdiction over the Northern Mindanao area, including the Caraga Region, which is composed of the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Dinagat Islands, Surigao City and Butuan.
Also under the 4ID are Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon and Camiguin and the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Gingoog, Malaybalay and Valencia.
Last year, Guingoog City Mayor Ruthie, wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. and mother of Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, was also ambushed by the rebels but fortunately surived.
Okinlay is the third local chief executive to be murdered this year after Mayor Carlito Pentescostes Jr. of Gonzaga, Cagayan and Urbiztondo, Pangasinan Mayor Ernesto Baklolong Jr.
The spokesman for the Bukid–non provincial police office, Inspector Joanne Galvez reported to Camp Crame that the mayor was on a three-vehicle convoy and was on their way back to his office after inspecting a medical mission when they were waylaid by the three gunmen.
Combine military and police troops have launched a pursuit operation against the rebels that are said to behind in the said ambush incident, the reports adding that the mayor was the only casualty in the said incident.