NPA Denies Killing Kidapawan Couple; Piol Disagrees with All-Out War

Jun. 24, 2006

By Cheryll D. Fiel

DAVAO CITY — The New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao has denied the accusation made by the police that it was behind the murders this week of George and Maricel Vigo, development workers and former journalists in Kidapawan City.

Instead, the NPA pointed to North Cotabato governor Emmanuel Piol and officials of the military as the perpetrators.

“As far as the revolutionary movement knows, no hit against activists in North Cotabato is undertaken without the imprimatur of North Cotabato governor Manny Piol , and certain officials of the 602nd brigade,” Ricardo Fermiza, spokesman of the NPAs Magtanggol Roque Command, said in a statement.

The police earlier said that the NPA assassinated the couple because they were allegedly spies for the government. Officials in Kidapawan said a certain Dionisio Madangguit was the NPA Sparrow assassin who killed the victims.

But Fermiza denied they have a member named Dionisio Madanguit. He said the police and officials were trying “to manipulate public opinion.”

“Nothing can be farther from the truth than such barefaced lie and deception, he said. The Vigo couple was known for their involvement in the progressive legal democratic mass movement in North Cotabato.

The police and the military had earlier claimed that the attacks on activists more than 600 have been killed since Arroyo took power in 2001 were part of a purge in the Left, similar to the pogrom, which was set off by the presence of government spies within the movement, that nearly destroyed the Communist Party of the Philippines in the late 80s and early 90s. The Communists laughed off this allegation.

Tore Hattrem, a senior Norwegian official who has been directly facilitating the peace negotiations between the government and the Communists, said during a forum in Oslo this week that “Norway has monitored a substantial increase in what must be defined as politically motivated killings in the last 12 months.”

He, however, said that the “the picture is very fragmented and it is difficult to have a solid assessment on who is behind these killings but it is unlikely that the majority of these killings are a result of internal purges within the progressive left movement.”

Fermiza, meanwhile, said that direct yet calculated physical attacks against unarmed militants are fast taking full form in Kidapawan City and North Cotabato. They have surveilled their targets, made all sorts of harassments, bombed offices, and now, committed murder.

The NPA, Fermiza said, “shall see to it that revolutionary justice shall be attained for the murdered couple.”

Piol earlier vowed to investigate the murders and had ordered a P50,000 reward to anybody who could identify the perpetrators. He has, in the past, been harshly criticized by cause-oriented groups and groups from the Left, for allegedly anti-people policies and actions, a charge the governor has denied several times.

He had been accused, for instance, of masterminding the bombing in May of the Anakpawis headquarters in Kidapawan, in which two activists were injured.

Early this week, Piol disagreed with the Arroyo administrations all-out war policy against the Communistinsurgency.

While there is no direct evidence that the killings were related to the recently announced campaign against the Left, I sincerely believe that violent means of ending the communist insurgency in the country would only exacerbate the situation,” Piol said in a statement following the killing of the Vigos last Monday.

Based on his experience in North Cotabato, he said, we have proven that providing for the needs of the people and addressing the problems confronting the countryside is still the most effective means in neutralizing the communist insurgency.

Piol made an appeal not to make our province a laboratory in experimenting the effectivity of extrajudicial killings as a method to neutralize the insurgency, he said. I will not allow this to happen.

Meanwhile, two more activists now fear for their lives after receiving threats sent through text messages. Kidapawan lawyer Connie Brizuela told local television that she received a text message Tuesday morning that said she and another person will suffer the same fate as the Vigos.

Brizuela is the legal counsel and spokesperson of the Kutabatenos alang sa Maayong Panggamhanan (Cotabato People for Good Governance or Kalampag), which had been critical of Piol, who filed a libel case against the group last year.

Brizuela was among the four jailed for three days last year for distributing anti-Pinol leaflets during a rally. (Cheryll D. Fiel/

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