BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office has been ordered by PNP chief, General Debold Sinas to create a special task group to investigate the assassination of Guihulngan City Inter Agency Task Force chief, Dr. Mary Rose Sancelan, and her husband, Edwin, on Dec. 15 in Guihulngan City.
Sancelan, who was Red-tagged by anti-communist vigilante group calling itself Kagubak (Kawsa Guihulnganon Batok Kumunista), and her husband were reported by the police to be on their way home on a motorcycle, when they were killed by two suspects on another motorcycle in Brgy. Poblacion, Guihulngan City.
Sinas said in a television interview that the Special Investigation Task Group will determine the reason behind the death of Sancelan and her husband.
Malacañang, meanwhile, said it is expecting the law enforcers to carry out a speedy investigation into the killing of the couple.
In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said, “We expect a speedy investigation so that the perpetrator would be caught, tried, and penalized,” he said.
Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong, the Makabayan bloc, and the New People’s Army in Negros Island also joined many others in calling for justice and condemning in the strongest terms the killing of the couple.
Limkaichong said Sancelan rendered selfless service to the people of Guihulngan, by being the only public doctor servicing its 33 barangays, and being crucial in providing health services to the people of Negros, having also assumed the role of city health officer and city nutrition action officer, and at the forefront of saving others from the threat of Covid-19.
Stressing that rural physicians are the lifeblood of health systems, Limkaichong said, “We must protect our doctors at all cost and safeguard them from all forms of violence and threats”.
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas expressed dismay that even frontline health workers are not spared from Red-tagging.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said that the killing of the Sancelan couple only showed that Red-tagging poses “clear and present danger” to those accused of having links with communist groups.
Ka Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson of the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command Regional Operational Command, also issued a statement linking the vigilante group to the killing.
The Movement Against Tyranny also decried the killing of the couple, who are the latest victims in a wave of extrajudicial killings that has gripped Negros Oriental since the issuance of Memorandum Order No. 32 by President Rodrigo Duterte in November 2018, that increased the number of AFP and PNP troops in Negros.
Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo has also ordered an investigation, as he condemned the act and sought justice for the victims.
Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo, the regional director of the Police Regional Office 7, together with Negros Oriental provincial police director Byran Demot, who paid a courtesy call on Degamo on Wednesaday, were told to investigate the spate of killings in the province, including that of Sancelan and her husband.
Capitol spokesperson Bimbo Miraflor said the killing of Sancelan “will surely affect in one and many ways the operations of the local IATF in Guihulngan”.
However, the city government of Guihulngan will eventually in due time designate or appoint somebody to take on the job, he said.*GPB with PNA