TWO still unidentified gunmen shot to death a former rebel leader-turned National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant inside a bus terminal in Aritao, Nueva Viscaya at 2:30 yesterday morning before fleeing, police said.
Police Regional Office 2 director, Chief Superintendent Jose Mario M. Espino said that 49-year old Felix Randy Malayao Jr., a resident of Barangay Minanga Norte in San Pablo, Isabela was killed inside a Victory Liner bus with plate no. ATA-9361 which stopped at the CCQ Bus Terminal in Aritao municipality.
The official ordered the creation of a Special Investigation Task Group to oversee the probe into the killing and the hunt for the assassins.
Espino said that witnesses bared that the killing took place shortly after the bus driver and the other passengers stopped at the terminal to have their snacks while the victim remained in his seat.
Minutes later, the two suspects arrived on board a black Yamaha Mio motorcycle and the back rider climbed the bus and shot the victim twice killing him on the spot.
The killer then quickly boarded the motorcycle and escaped with his cohort.
The victim was described as a former New People’s Army leader in Cagayan Valley who was arrested on May 5, 2008 by Army and police intelligence agents for his alleged involvement in the murder of former Cagayan Representative Rodolfo Aguinaldo and his aide-bodyguard Joey Garro on June 12, 2001.
However, Judge Jezarene Aquino of the Tuguegarao City Regional Trial Court Branch 5 found him not guilty of the charges filed against him in connection with the Aguinaldo slay, ruling that the prosecution failed to prove he participated in the crime.
According to Espino, Malayao is listed as a consultant of the NDF and its spokesperson for Northern Luzon.
The militant group Karapatan identified Malayao as a peace and human rights advocate and NDFP consultant who participated in the formal peace talks of the NDFP and the Duterte government.
The group said that Malayao had no criminal charges before government courts, which allowed him to freely move around the country to attend peace-related activities.
Malayao, according to Karapatan was a former political prisoner who spent more than four years in jails in Cagayan and Isabela provinces.
He earned his Bachelor of Science in Fisheries degree from the University of the Philippines Visayas-Miag-ao in the 1990s and was also a columnist of the Baguio City-based newspaper Northern Dispatch, the group added.
With Zaida Delos Reyes