The wife of the slain barangay leader, Juana (carrying their 4-year old child), is seeking justice for the killing of her husband, reportedly at the hands of the NPA members. (JOEY A. GABIETA)

HILONGOS, Leyte- The wife of the slain barangay chairman of Barangay San Antonio, this town, is calling for justice.
Juana Loquias husband, Vergilio,43, was gunned down by four men, who identified themselves as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) on August 16 while cooking the shrimps he and his three companions catched in a river in their village of San Antonio, Hilongos town.
The 28-year old widow said that she could not believe that her husband was murdered ‘brutally’ as she described himself as a ‘good man who worked for the interest of his people’ in their village.
“I am appealing to our authorities to give justice to us by arresting and filing a case against those who killed my husband,” she said.
The barangay official was shot 12 times, based on the empty shells of M-17 and Ak-47 recovered from the scene of the crime by the authorities.
Major Jayson Balbarona, town police chief, said that they are set to file murder charge against the four suspects before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Hilongos.
“We have identified the suspects based on the accounts of the witnesses who identified them through a photo gallery shown to them by our counterparts,” Balbarona said.
The suspects, after shooting the victim, told his companions, who included his father-in-law, Romeo Adobas, that they were members of the NPA.
They killed him allegedly as he was said to have informed the military that their village is being used as a camp by the rebels.
It was learned that the village, 50 kms away from the town center with more than 700 residents, was the site of an encounter between the military and the rebels on May 10, 2017.
Lt. Romeo Obaob, commanding officer of the 78th Infantry Battalion, whose are include the town of Hilongos, said that they are still conducting their manhunt operations against the rebels behind the killing of Loquias.
He said that they have recommended with their higher ups that a military detachment be put up in San Antonio to ensure that safety of its residents and to avoid similar incident.
“This request of ours is still being processed by our higher ups,” Obaob said.
Meantime, town municipal officer Jose Villaflores, said that the town residents should not get panicked as the local authorities is doing their best to arrest those responsible.
“This is just an isolated case. The incident happened in San Antonio which is about 50 kms away from the town proper,” he said.
Villaflores added that the last similar incident happened on their town more than 30 years ago.
The municipal government has extended assistance to the family, he added. The burial of the slain village official is on Monday afternoon at the Catholic public cemetery.