Balweg's real killer identified
() - January 7, 2000 - 12:00am

It was a communist guerrilla who killed former rebel leader Conrado Balweg and not his own brother.

Police said Procorpio Tauro alias Pyro and Ka Lito was the masked gunman who shot dead with an Armalite rifle the leader of the Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) in the afternoon of Dec. 31.

Reports said Tauro, a member of the New People's Army (NPA), was identified as the killer by relatives of Balweg through statements given to the Abra police's Task Force Balweg.

Witnesses said Tauro was with the slain former priest's brother Jovencio and other NPA rebels when he shot and killed Balweg,

Police and Army troops are searching for Tauro and his accomplices in Mataragan district in Malicbong town, as well as several areas in the Abra-Kalinga Apayao boundary.

The killer was not immediately identified because he was said to be wearing a bonnet at the time he shot Balweg, a former Roman Catholic priest.

Earlier police reported that Balweg was killed by Jovencio. Police officials later retracted this statement and pointed to an NPA hit man as the killer.

Tauro and the other suspects have been charged in court with murder.

Balweg was killed inside his house at Malibong, Abra last Dec. 31.

In Bangued, Abra, Ama Mariano Agosto, the new president of the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA), has discouraged the CPLA from avenging the death of Balweg.

"We have no intention to avenge his death through arms because we would be violating our peace agreement with the government," he said. "We no longer resort to armed resolution of conflicts, they are better done through peaceful means."

He was reacting to a threat by Sumolong Sayen, alias Ka Ablim, a top CPLA commander in Abra, that the CPLA will launch a search-and- destroy operation against Jovencio and other NPA rebels whom the police had earlier identified as Balweg's killer.

Sayen told The STAR the CPLA will undertake the operation jointly with army troops.

Superintendent Raul Gonzales, Abra police chief, has deployed police and Army troops to hunt Jovencio and 64 other NPA rebels who are believed to be still in Abra.

Agosto and Modesto Sagudang, CPLA deputy officer, in separate statements distributed to reporters yesterday, asked NPA rebels whether they could peacefully solve the conflict.

"Can you stand up for non-violent resolution of conflicts?" they asked."When will you, the Cordillera NPA cadres, start again to recognize you indigenous culture and traditions?"

Gavino Gang-gangan, CBA secretary general, said the CBA and CPLA will continue Balweg's autonomy talks with the national government.

"We will be firm and consistent with our demand for autonomy in the Cordilleras."

President Estrada had earlier created a committee chaired by Balweg and Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora to discuss the issue of autonomy for the Cordilleras. -

ABRA ABRA-KALINGA APAYAO AGOSTO AND MODESTO SAGUDANG AMA MARIANO AGOSTO BALWEG BODONG ADMINISTRATION CONRADO BALWEG JOVENCIO POLICE TAURO
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