Bp. Cabantan condemns slaying of Impasug-ong mayor

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News.Net/05 July) Malaybalay bishop Jose Cabantan condemned the slaying of Impasug-ong mayor Mario Okinlay in a statement on “extra-judicial killings” released on July 5.

“We condemned the act of killing of Mayor Mario Okinlay and all extra-judicial killings that happened in our diocese. Let us not forget that God is the owner of our lives. We are all just His stewards…. Nobody is given the right to take someone else’s life,” the bishop said in the statement emailed to Bukidnon News.Net by Fr. Oliver Verdejo, station director of the diocese’s DXDB-AM radio and editor-in-chief of Ang Bandilyo newspaper.

The bishop said the diocese does “not espouse violence as a means to justice and peace”.

“We all long for perfect justice. We wanted to create a society where justice always prevails. We wanted peace and security. We dream of a place where we are not afraid to walk in the night and where we can sleep peacefully in the night.

He added that these are all the longing of everyone.

“But we cannot by all means use violence as way to achieving justice and peace,” he added.

He said there “will never be peace and justice until we know justice and peace in our hearts”.

Cabantan quoted Pope Francis as saying “even today we continue this history of conflict between brothers, even today we raise our hands against our brother. Even today, we let ourselves be guided by idols, by selfishness, by our own interests, and this attitude persists.”

The bishop cited that people continue to sow destruction, pain, and death – but they only to the culture of death.
“Rather, we are called to nurture life, to create an atmosphere where life will prosper according to the will of God,” he added.

He urged the public not to lose hope and to “continue working to achieve peace and justice” and let it “be done in a non-violent way.”

MindaNews reported that the New People’s Army has admitted responsibility in the killing of Mayor Mario Okinlay of Impasugong, Bukidnon on Wednesday.

In a statement written in Cebuano emailed Friday, the NPA North-Central Mindanao Region spokesperson Allan Juanito said Okinlay was killed for his “counter-revolutionary activities in the guise of peace and development” in the barangays.

The statement said snipers from the NPA South-Central Bukidnon Sub-Regional Command carried out the operation at around 8 a.m. on July 2.

It said Okinlay and his convoy had come from Barangay Bontongon escorted by police and soldiers from the 8th Infantry Battalion when the guerrillas carried out the attack.

The rebel group accused Okinlay of aiding the military in implementing Oplan Bayanihan, the government’s counterinsurgency strategy, since 2013.

“Okinlay did not recognize the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law) and international laws of war. Believing he was the king of Impasugong, he allowed the 8thIB to live with civilians, occupy public buildings in some barangays, put up checkpoints wherever and whenever they wanted. “In some barrios, they made the people starve by limiting to five kilos the rice that each family may buy, and restricted the villagers’ livelihood activities, restricting their farm work from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.,” the statement said.

Juanito added that Okinlay refused to heed the “people’s issues” brought to his attention in 2006 and snubbed another warning from the NPA last year.(Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News.Net)