Husband of NDFP peace consultant killed in alleged shootout with police

Husband of NDFP peace consultant killed in alleged shootout with police
Undated file photo of members of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 11:03 a.m.) — Police killed in an alleged shootout Friday evening Reynaldo Bocala, a peace consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and husband to fellow peace consultant Maria Concepcion "Concha" Araneta who was designated by the Anti-Terrorism Council as a terrorist.

He and his companion Welly Arguelles Epago were killed in the alleged shootout with members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group at Providence Subdivision in Barangay Balabag in the town of Pavia in Iloilo, according to local media.

Local media quoted police as saying that they were just going to serve four arrest warrants against Bocala, but he and his companion supposedly opened fire at them.

“Wala kaming magawa but to fire back. Nagkaputukan na,” Police Lt. Col. Gervacio Balmaceda Jr. said, as quoted by Panay News.

(We couldn't do anything but fire back. A shootout happened.)

Local media reported that the Bocala and Epago were armed with two .45-caliber pistols and that “subversive documents,” empty firearm shells and cellphones were recovered from the house they were staying at.

Police also tagged Bocala as a “high-ranking official” of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

The CPP, however, said in a statement that Bocala was unarmed and that the PNP is "concocting lies."

"Stories by police and military officials of firearms recovered from the scene are all made-up to make the crime a legitimate police and military operation," CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said.
Bocala was accused of robbery in band with frustrated homicide and damage to property with the use of motor vehicle and unlicensed firearms, robbery with serious physical injuries, arson, and murder. The Philippine National Police also listed him as one of their most wanted persons with a P4.8-million reward for his capture.

The ATC designated his wife, Araneta, as a terrorist along with 18 other supposed members of the CPP’s central committee which will allow the Anti-Money Laundering Council to look into and freeze assets believed to be used to fund terrorism.

The CPP, however, pointed out that those designated by the ATC have been active in peace talks through the NDFP either as members of the negotiating panel or as consultants.

"Most of them are now in their sixties and seventies. Three of them are unjustly incarcerated. Throughout the past decades, they have courageously stood side by side with the people and struggled against dictators and tyrants. They all have sacrificed personal ambition and selfish interests," the CPP said. — Xave Gregorio

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