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By Kit Bagaipo, Jhunnex Napallacan
Inquirer
Last updated 05:26pm (Mla time) 06/27/2007


TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines -- Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado has offered a P50,000 cash reward for information leading to the arrest of Hilario Diola, the prime suspect in the killing of provincial Bayan Muna (People First) leader Mario Auxillo.

The governor made the offer Tuesday morning during a conference with Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, local leaders of cause-oriented groups and Bohol police director Senior Superintendent Edgardo Ingking at the Governor's Mansion.

Ocampo and Ingking welcomed the governor's move as the suspect remains at large despite seven witnesses having positively identified him as Auxillo’s alleged killer.

"These so-called political killings have blemished our country's reputation. We could not countenance the slaying of militant leaders," said Aumentado.

Last year, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) provincial chair Victor Olayvar was gunned down while he was on his way to a meeting with local peasants. Olayvar's killers remained unidentified and a case filed by the police was dismissed for lack of evidence.

Ocampo flew in from Manila on Tuesday to lead a tribute for Auxillo in Trinidad, the slain activist's hometown where he was buried Tuesday afternoon.

With the cash reward and the filing of the case against Auxillo's assailant, Ocampo said "the Auxillo slay is at least partially solved."

Aumentado urged Ingking for a "proper closure" to "end speculations" about the peasant leader's murder as the PNP already had a strong case based on the testimonies of three credible witnesses.

Bayan Muna in Central Visayas has accused the military of hiding the suspect in the killing of Auxillo.

In Cebu City, the left-wing party list’s Central Visayas coordinator Arman Perez chided the Bohol police for letting a week pass without being able to catch Diola, an alleged member of the anti-communist organization Alimaong.

He said the Alimaong Holy Warriors were organized by a certain Master Sergeant Anthony Tabada.

Perez and about 80 activists held a mock burial on Tuesday for Auxillo at the headquarters of the Police Regional office (PRO 7) in Cebu City to demand justice.

Colonel Jessie Dellosa, commander of the 302nd Brigade based in Carmen, Bohol, has denied allegations Diola is under their protection.

Dellosa said he talked to Tabada, who admitted that he organized the Alimaong group to help the indigenous people in Bohol. Tabada also confirmed that Diola was a member, Dellosa said.

According to Dellosa, the military is not involved in the Alimaong, an initiative of Tabada who has gone on absence without leave.

Meanwhile, Ingking briefed Ocampo on the progress of the manhunt and the status of the case filed against the suspect.

Ingking said the police were trying to convince the suspect's wife to disclose the whereabouts of her husband as there were reports Diola was spotted at least twice going to their house after the killing.

Only Diola knows the motive for killing Auxillo since several witnesses saw the two engaged in "a serious conversation" for about 20 minutes before the shooting, Ingking said.

Diola shot Auxillo in full view of many witnesses.

However, the two were known friends.
 

 


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