PHP10-M bounty put up to capture killers of Palawan Rescue 165 chief
Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez on early Monday morning announced that the provincial government is offering PhP10 million to whoever can point to or give information about the killers of Rescue 165 and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Gilbert S. Baaco, who was murdered on Good Friday.
The bounty was offered by Alvarez following the communist-terrorist New People’s Army’s (NPA) claim that it is responsible for the summary execution of Baaco, who the rebel group claimed, was a “drug lord and a gunrunner” in a Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) website post on April 15.
“We were able to discuss yesterday that I will make a request to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to give me authority to come up with PhP10 million to put on the table as bounty,” he said, adding the amount will be his personal money.
The disbursement of the fund to solve the murder of Baaco will be handled by lawyer Teodoro Jose Matta, who is the provincial legal officer and chairman of the Peace and Order Council (POC) of the Palawan government.
“I address this money to the poor individuals, who joined the van – to encourage him to talk. There is one person in that van who was wounded because Gilbert was able to shoot one as there was a trail of blood going out the escape route,” he said.
The Palawan governor requested the local media present to call on witnesses to cooperate and solve the crime against the Baaco family.
“Whoever saw this man that was hit and wounded by a 9mm pistol – if he was being cared for, or brought to any medical facility, please, inform us, inform authorities to help solve this crime,” Alvarez implored.
Baaco, the head of Rescue 165, the Palawan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) and several other programs of the provincial government, was shot dead past 8:00 p.m. on Good Friday in his home in Barangay Barong-Barong, Brooke’s Point by a group of unidentified armed men.
Information gathered from the Police Inspector Maribel Ustares on the day the crime was perpetrated said he was raked with gunfire while he was about to get out to the kitchen to help his wife Maria Victoria, when she shouted after being confronted by two armed female communist rebels.
He was rushed past 9:00 p.m. to the Leoncio General Hospital, but was declared dead on arrival (DOA) by attending emergency doctors.
The group of armed men were said to be composed of two females and three males.
The females reportedly held Baaco’s wife (name not readily available) while he was being shot. They were said to be carrying high-powered Armalite rifles; their faces painted with what seemed to be coal soot or powder; and were in camouflage outfits.
Baaco, or GSB to his friends, suffered four gunshot wounds — one was on his neck — a fatal area.
On claims by the NPA that Baaco was a drug lord and a gunrunner, Alvarez said Baaco was never any of these accusations.
“We miss our brother, our dear friend… who, in the midst of Holy Week, his murder was planned and carried out by criminals, who are disguising as NPA, and we know who is behind it, but in the meantime, and to maintain peace; I will keep the information to myself,” he said.
“It is not true that he is a drug lord, we all know that. And the guns that were stolen by these people, who are said to be NPA members, are properties of the provincial government,” he said.
In the website of the PRWC, the NPA claimed it executed Baaco after receiving reports that on April 14, a huge "shabu" deal will happen in his home in Barong-Barong, Brooke’s Point.
The claim was made by a certain Salvador Luminoso, who said he is the spokesperson of the NPA’s Bienvenido Vallever Command.
Luminoso said seized from Baaco were 18 firearms composed of six shotguns, nine units of 9mm pistols, two pieces of M4-bushmaster, and a regular M16.
They also carted away 500 rounds of 5.56×45mm bullets; 100 rounds for 9mm; 20 rounds and a magazine for caliber .45 and also live ammunition for .38 and .40 caliber firearms. (PNA)
Grace Ann N. Belostrino / PNA