Killings in Magallon

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

I AM using the original name of the town, “Magallon” rather than Moises Padilla given to this sleepy town in southeast Occidental Negros because the new name was born out of killing and it seems the ghost of bloodshed in that town refuses to rest.

Just before the election, Magallon was at the center of attention for the attempted killing of the mayoralty candidate, the Vice Mayor, Ella Garcia-Yulo. It was placed under Comelec control and the election there was peaceful. Garcia-Yulo won as mayor.

But now her perch is being challenged as a complaint was filed on July 24 before the Department of the Interior and Local Government for that office “to conduct an investigation on the verified reports regarding the association and links of Vice Mayor and now Mayor Ella Celestina Garcia-Yulo” and “her party-mate and now the newly elected Vice Mayor Adrian Villaflor, with the NPA and illegal drugs trade in the town.”

The complaint was filed by six residents of the town: Agustin Grande III, Misil Hilario, Marilyn Amable, Ruby Caminade, Mary Jane Diones and Joelito Caminada. They are relatives of the alleged victims.

Earlier a news report said that a former member of the New People’s Army who claims now to be on the NPA hit list surfaced on Friday and accused the current mayor and vice mayor of Moises Padilla of having links to the insurgent group.

The 53-year-old Noli Garinggo, once chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and resident of Moises Padilla filed an affidavit before the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Negros Occidental at Camp Alfredo Montelibano Sr. in Bacolod. Garringo claimed he was with the KMP and NPA since 1982 but in 2019 he was disarmed and sentenced to death by the NPA. He probably escaped and now is accusing the mayor of links to the NPA.

Garcia-Yulo and Villaflor denied the allegations ofGarringo that they have associations with the NPA.

There are several other letters addressed to the PNP all asking for an investigation of the two Magallon officials for the same alleged offense: links with the NPA and the murder of their kin.

Attached to these complaints is a certification by the Magallon PNP naming 26 victims of the NPA from 2009 to 2010.

Considering these facts as true, what had the PNP done to solve these killings? Since the deaths date back to ten years, can these be attributed to the Garcia-Yulo and Villaflor? If they are indeed associated with the NPA, a charge they denied, then it becomes necessary for the PNP to investigate the accusations. We take this also in the light of the charges that the killings in Oriental Negros were perpetrated by the NPA.

Magallon is central Negros’ gateway from Occidental to Oriental Negros and in some areas Magallon has pathways through the mountains to the eastern side of Negros island.

The allegations are serious. These had been made several times and the PNP had not come out with any findings of linkages. The PNP should, therefore, probe deeper into the allegations of these people and if found to have concocted their stories to take action to prevent people from making a mockery of our laws by taking the police in a merry go round.

On the other hand, people don’t make accusations and spend time and money on a lie. Somewhere there is an explanation for these charges and that is for the PNP to find out. It is a knee-jerk reaction to claim these charges were politically motivated considering the political situation in Magallon.

We know that in some of these murders, the NPA had admitted responsibility but the twist here is that the mayor and her vice mayor have links with the communist rebels and that is a matter to determine because any affiliation with the insurgents is criminal in itself. They too need to be cleared if innocent and brought to justice if proven beyond doubt to have such a link.

Their positions as town officials require them to deal with all sorts of people, NPA or not. What is important is whether their interaction constituted a crime. Those who charged them have the responsibility to prove them guilty. Under our system of justice, these accusers must prove their charge; the PNP cannot be used to prove them right.