The mayor of the town of Loreto in Agusan del Sur and his son were found dead Tuesday morning (Oct. 20) in Butuan City a day after they were whisked away from their home by armed men.
Police said the bodies of Mayor Dario Otaza, 53, and son Daryl were found bearing multiple gunshot wounds in a coconut plantation in Purok Dos, Barangay Bitan-agan, adding that the bodies were hogtied.
Otaza was a former member of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. He was known for his anti-communist insurgency campaign in his town.
Otaza had recently filed his candidacy for reelection as Loreto mayor in the 2016 elections.
On Monday, Otaza and his son were abducted by 18 armed men who online casino introduced themselves as members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Police Supt. Martin Gamba said in a Mindanews.com report that the armed men used a black Starex van with plate number KDG 179 and with tribal markings as getaway vehicle.
The government and Otaza’s relatives are blaming the communist rebels for the deaths of Otaza and his son.
Malacanang condemned the killing as it pointed fingers to the NPA as “primary suspects” for the abduction and murder.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this cowardly act. We hope that Mayor Otaza”s death unites the people of Agusan del Sur, the Manobos and the entire Lumad community, and every decent Filipino in working sincerely towards lasting, meaningful peace,” Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a report.
Palace undersecretary Manny Bautista noted that Otaza had received death threats, and that he had facilitated the surrender of hundreds of communist rebels.
But Agusan del Sur Vice Governor Sante Cane said it is too early to blame the communist rebels for the death of Otaza.
The Communist Party of the Philippines meanwhile has not issued any statement on the death of Otaza.