BAGUIO CITY (Dec. 27) — Local officials of the Mountain Province’ Philippine National Police (PNP) face a blank wall as it considers three possible angles in the recent tragic ambush-killing of Paracelis Mayor Cesar Rafael.
Provincial Police Superintendent Joseph Adnol shares that the PNP had been considering possible motives for the ambush-killing which include local politics, land dispute, and the handiwork of the New People’s Army. The provincial officials formed a Task Force to investigate and find a solution to the case.
Rafael was ambushed between 12:00 noon and 2:00 P.M. on December 24 at Sitio Sinigpit, Barangay Palitud, Paracelis, Mountain Province. He just left his farm and was aboard his Toyota Hi-Lux pickup when unidentified armed men opened fire.
According to his daughter Anna Maria Paz Rafael-Banaag, autopsy reports showed Rafael bore 200 bullet wounds. Rafael-Banaag is the mayor of neighboring town Natonin, also in Mountain Province.
Residents, who saw the mayor’s body at the Paracelis District Hospital where the latter was brought immediately after the incident, claimed the act was a desecration as the eyes and ears of the mayor were blown off while his arm was nearly dismembered due to the bullets peppered by the ambushers.
Local PNP reports showed that Rafael’s vehicle registered at least 60 bullet marks.
The killing of Rafael was dubbed by local officials including Presidential Assistant for the Cordilleras Thomas Killip as the worst in the history of Mountain Province.
Local residents interviewed claimed that the most probable reason for the killing of Rafael was due to local politics. The local elections history since 1998 should be reviewed and may back up the politics angle, according to one resident.
While not directly attributing the past elections rigging and ballot snatching since 1998 to Rafael, this Nordis source, who requested to be anonymous, claimed that the politics is the most probable reason for the ambush.
The source said it is impossible for outsiders to attack the mayor in his own bailiwick. He also ruled out the NPA angle. The source added that the killer knew the daily routine of the mayor, insinuating a possible surveillance or familiarity.
Mayor of Paracelis since the time of the ousted President Ferdinand Marcos, Rafael was re-elected last May and chosen president of the Mountain Province mayor’s league .
Before his death, Rafael was believed to be a contender for the second highest position of the province.
Another Rafael kin was mayor of Natonin before she died. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS