MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 11 Oct) – A prominent farmer-businessman in the municipality of Talakag in Bukidnon was stabbed to death Wednesday afternoon in what the regional police claimed could be the handiwork of the New People’s Army.
Supt. Surki Serenas, PNP-10 spokesperson, identified the victim as Wenceslao Caumban Jr., a member of Xavier University high school class 1975 who eventually graduated at the University of the Philippines-Los Banos.
The provincial police, however, had not identified suspects behind the killing yet because they were still to conduct investigations, according to Senior Insp. Jiselle Ester Lou M. Longakit, information officer of Bukidnon Police Provincial Office (BPPO).
Serenas said Caumban, who was on board a blue Toyota Revo, was on the way to pay his workers when suspected rebels intercepted him in Kilometer 27, Barangay Tikalaan.
He said Caumban sustained three stab wounds on his neck and right eye.
Reydan Gayao, municipal disaster risk reduction and management officer who led the team who recovered the body of the victim, said Caumban’s head may have been smashed with concrete.
He said they received the report about the incident around 3:45 p.m., concluding that the killing may have occurred between 2 and 3:30 p.m.
Serenas said a team of 25 policemen responding to the crime was fired upon by unidentified gunmen at Kilometer 23, Barangay Tikalaan, four kilometers from Caumban’s bee farm.
“The gunfire was intense that we decided not to proceed to the crime scene,” Insp. Jessie James Lasdoce, Talakag police chief, told MindaNews by phone.
Lasdoce said policemen from Kalilangan, Bukidnon helped in retrieving Caumban’s body.
Kalilangan police, he said, also recovered Caumban’s blue Toyota Revo at 10 a.m. Thursday morning.
Serenas said they are investigating the possibility that the victim carried a huge amount of money to pay his workers.
“We are still investigating this but one thing sure is that it was the NPA who killed Caumban and it was their blocking force who fired at the responding policemen from Talakag,” he said.
Serenas said witnesses told policemen that they saw several armed men wearing military uniforms ganging up on Caumban.
“There was a commotion and somebody hacked the victim,” Serenas said.
It was also in Tikalaan, Talakag village where the NPA ambushed a police vehicle that resulted in the death of an infant and injury to two adult civilians on November 11, 2017.
The baby girl, along with a policeman, was killed in the ambush. The girl, her mother and companions were inside a Toyota Fortuner following the police vehicle.
The NPA apologized and took full responsibility but the incident was cited by President Rodrigo Duterte as one reason why he terminated peace talks with the communists and categorized the NPA as a terrorist organization.
The death of Caumban came as a shock to his batch mates at Xavier University to the staff at the regional office of the Department of Agriculture here where his wife Cita works.
“Caumban did not carry a gun because he was a peace-loving person,” said classmate Chito Lluch.
Former Sunstar Cagayan de Oro editor in chief Uriel Quilinguing, also a classmate, said Caumban and another classmate had their morning coffee in one of the cafés here before he left for his farm.
He said the victim intended to visit his sickly father in Kalilangan after his farm visit. (With reports from Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)