PHOTO CAPTION: The IPPO has directed the immediate investigation of the broad daylight murder of Bgry. Roosevelt, Tapaz, Capiz punong barangay Julie Catamin (center), who has been hailed a “hero” by his peers and constituents./iNEWS (Photo: PIA)
ILOILO–While the victim is a barangay captain of a village in Tapaz, Capiz, the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) is forming a Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) to dig deep into the controversial killing of the punong barangay of Roosevelt, Tapaz, by motorcycle-riding suspects in Calinog, Iloilo.
Roosevelt is one of the barangays where a joint police and military raid in December last year ended in bloodshed.
Initial investigation on the incident says Julie Catamin was on his way home on a motorcycle in the vicinity of Brgy. Malitbog-Centro in Calinog town when motorcycle-riding gunmen overtook him and started peppering him with bullets yesterday, February 28.
According to P/Capt. Genesis Roque, OIC chief of the Calinog Municipal Police Station (MPS), the order to form a SITG came directly from the Police Regional Office (PRO)-6 headquarters in Camp Delgado, Iloilo City.
With the creation of the SITG, it is expected that a team of probers will focus on investigating the crime, leading to an earlier resolution.
Based on the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s Operational Procedures, a SITG fast-tracks the resolution of heinous and sensation cases.
But in the event it fails to resolve the crime within six months after its commission, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) will take over the case.
In the preliminary investigation conducted by the Calinog MPS, it was learned the victim had allegedly complained of receiving threats to his life from the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
A source said the threats started after the Philippine Army deployed a Community Support Group (CSG) in the victim’s barangay last year in hopes of putting an end to the influence of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA in their village.
According to Roque, Catamin was a long-standing supporter of the programs of the government, which could have been the reason he was targeted.
In addition to the PNP, the PA also believes it’s the NPA who was responsible for the killing.
Roque said Catamin has no record of any kind with the Tapaz PNP and is not into illegal drugs, he further quipped.
But according to Reylan Vergara of Karapatan-Panay, Catamin served as a star witness for residents of his barangay that were subjected to the CIDG’s Oplan Paglalansag last December 30.
To recall, on that day, 16 residents of several barangays in the municipalities of Tapaz, Capiz, and Calinog, Iloilo were apprehended by a joint team of police and military operatives for alleged possession of illegal firearms. Of the said number, four were residents of Brgy. Roosevelt.
Later that same day, Catamin also posted on his Facebook account asking help for what he alleged was the raiders’ “planting” of evidence to pin down his constituents. He also claimed some of his barangay residents’ houses were destroyed.
Based on information gathered by Karapatan, there are certain members of the CIDG who went to Catamin’s house numerous times while Army soldiers had been asking him to go to their detachment prior to the killing.
The PNP and the PA both vehemently deny the accusations.
Meanwhile, the municipal government of Tapaz, thru Mayor Roberto Palomar, is offering a P300,000 cash reward “for anyone who could provide relevant information that would lead to the immediate arrest of the perpetrators who cowardly killed Brgy. Capt. Julie Catamin of Brgy. Roosevelt, Tapaz.”
‘DAY OF INFAMY’
Meanwhile, Atty. Flosemer Chris Gonzales of the Aklan Provincial Prosecutors’ Office, who is also the Spokesperson of the Regional Task Force-6 End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTC-6 ELCAC), in a statement said, “Catamin made the ultimate sacrifice in the altar of freedom.”
“He had worked for the liberation of the people of Barangay Roosevelt, Tapaz, from the clutches of the CPP-NPA terrorist organization…and had been very vocal in his condemnation of the atrocities of the CPA-NPA,” he added.
“February 28, 2021, a day that will forever live in infamy, will also be a day that we will remember your heroic act, of giving your life to the cause of freedom,” Gonzales averred. (N. Glenn Aragon/INews)