Government agencies against insurgency are asking for justice to be served in the death of village chief Julie Catamin of Barangay Roosevelt, Tapaz, Capiz.
“He was our ally in the pursuit of justice and peace, especially diyan po sa lugar niya (there in her area),” Director of Integrated Communications Operations Center, Strategic Communications Cluster of National Task Force Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Joel Sy Egco said in a virtual press conference calling for “true justice” on the death of the barangay captain on Wednesday.
The undersecretary took part in the conference in his capacity as director of the new NTF -ELCAC cluster.
Egco said it was very clear the camp of the communist terrorist group (CTG) was lying and just using the death of Catamin to advance their propaganda, adding that it was not even remote that the rebels were behind in the fatal shooting based on their long history of sowing fear.
The CTG has claimed that the death of the village chief was government-initiated.
Catamin, 45 years old, was killed by riding-in-tandem suspects while on his way home to Tapaz on Feb. 28.
“I hope all of us are enlightened as to what really happened, what really transpired. I am one with everybody here in seeking true and genuine justice for Barangay Captain Julie Catamin,” Egco said.
The conference was also joined by NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy, Regional Task Force ELCAC spokesperson Associate Provincial Prosecutor Flosemer Chris Gonzales, Tapaz Mayor Roberto Palomar, Philippine Army 301st Infantry Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Marion Sison, Police Regional Office-Western Visayas director Brig. Gen. Rolando Miranda, Director Agosto Maglunsod of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples, and Ka Eric (a former rebel), among others.
Badoy remembered Catamin as a passionate leader to his constituents when she met with the barangay captains of Tapaz.
“What we are being asked to do is to be brave, the way Julie was brave and to serve each other the way Julie served her constituents. This is the way we honor the memory of Julie. It truly is an honor to have met him and have known him,” she said.
She added that the case of Catamin is not just a local issue as terrorism is of international concern.
“And we are dealing with terrorists. Ang pagpaslang kay Julie Catamin ay hindi maliit na bagay (The killing of Julie Catamin is not a small matter),” Badoy said.
She said the communist terrorists would like to threaten the locals but the people of Tapaz were lucky because of their brave mayor.
“We want all of this to come out in the open and to make sure that the people of Tapaz and the local chiefs know na hindi sila nag-iisa (they are not alone). Kasama nila ang national task force headed by the President and lahat kami dito ay invested para makita na ang hustisya ay ma-serve sa pagkamatay ni Catamin (The national task force headed by the President and all of us here are invested to seek justice for Catamin’s death),” she said.
Miranda said Catamin was a “material point person” in the Akap-Kapatid program for New People’s Army surrenderers and their former supporters by organizing participants in Capiz.
Akap-Kapatid is a psycho-social intervention program piloted in Western Visayas by the RTF ELCAC which was last held on Feb. 21.
To hasten the investigation of the case, Miranda said that a special task group would be activated to determine the motive and go after the perpetrators.
Among the angles to be looked into is Catamin’s affiliation with the Philippine Army and PNP for the Akap-Kapatid, he said.
To be included in the investigation will be the group of Karapatan that was quick to provide facts about the case and make accusations against the police and military right after the shooting.
Gonzales reiterated the call of the regional task force for justice for Catamin as he denounced the CTG for his death.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
Source: Philippines News Agency