Palace condemns murder of Agusan del Sur Mayor, son

Malacañang has condemned the murder of Mayor Dario Otaza of Loreto, a town in Agusan del Sur province, and his son Daryl, by armed men believed to be members of the New People's Army (NPA).

The two were abducted from their home on Monday night and were found dead at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, hogtied with multiple gunshot wounds, in the vicinity of Purok 2, Barangay Bitan-agan, Butuan City.

“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,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“Mayor Otaza was a Manobo, a Lumad, and a former NPA rebel himself. Since his surrender, he has been an invaluable partner for peace in the region. His programs to ensure that former rebels have the means to lead dignified lives as part of mainstream society have encouraged many insurgents to lay down their arms. Observers have lauded the success of these programs,” said Secretary Coloma.

The Palace official said the Philippine National Police, with the support of the Armed Forces, has intensified its operations to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Photo: Screengrab from YouTube

Undersecretary Manny Bautista of the Cabinet Cluster on Security, Justice and Peace also issued a statement condemning the killings.

“We strongly condemn the murder of Mayor Dario Otaza and Daryl Otaza, as we condemn all the attacks on the Lumad peoples. We grieve with his family, the people of Loreto, the Manobos and other indigenous peoples, and the entire Filipino public. Rest assured that our law enforcement personnel will exert every effort to bring the perpetrators of this grisly, cowardly crime to justice,” said Bautista.

“Mayor Otaza was a staunch partner of peace in Agusan del Sur. A member of the Manobo indigenous group, he stood as the representative of the Lumad peoples, ensuring that IP communities were not left behind. He founded programs that allowed rebel returnees like himself to live dignified lives upon their return to mainstream society,” Bautista's statement further said.

He said the Butuan City local government has activated its crisis committee and was scheduled to call for a press conference later in the day.

Source: PCOO