Palawan Governor Jose Chavez Alvarez believes it was not the New People’s Army (NPA) who are behind the fatal shooting of Rescue 165 Head and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer Gilbert Baaco. In a press conference on Monday, April 17, Alvarez said the murder was perpetrated by people who want to trample his leadership as governor of the province.
According to Alvarez, the said crime was more of a political move meant to paralyze his government by killing one of his trusted men.
The governor’s statement came after NPA Commander Bienvenido Vallever claimed in an official announcement that their group conducted the operations that led to Baaco’s death on April 14.
“Mga kababayan, pulitika ang isa sa mga lumalabas na matibay at posibleng sanhi sa pagpatay kay GSB na tinitingnan ng pamunuan ng pamahalaang panlalawigan,” added Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta Jr.
Alvarez said the suspects were wearing brand new military uniform and that they used a bamboo ladder, which was left in the crime scene. The provincial government is trying to trace where the ladder was assembled to crack a lead on the case.
In their official letter, the NPA alleged that Baaco is a drug lord and gun runner. On April 14, the letter said, their men went to conduct an operation on Baaco’s residence after receiving a report that drug trading is ongoing at the said house.
As published in the website www.philippinerevolution.info, the rebel group claimed they were able to confiscate six pieces of shotgun, nine pieces of 9mm, two pieces M4-bushmaster, and a regular M16. They were also able to get around 500 rounds of bullets for 5.56×45mm, 100 rounds of bullets for 9mm, 20 rounds and a magazine of bullets for cal.45, and bullets for cal. 38 and cal.40.
Alvarez, on the other hand, explained that the said firearms are owned by the provincial government and are merely under the care of Baaco. The governor said the firearms were donated to him by his friends who owed some amount of money to him.
“Si Gilbert ay isang masipag, isang kawani ng gobyerno na gumagawa ng mabuti sa kapwa. Hindi totoo na binabansagan siyang drug lord. ‘Yung mga armas na nakuha doon sa bahay niya ay pag-aari ng provincial government,” the governor said.
The provincial government has allotted a P10M-reward money to those who can point them to suspect/s behind the murder.
Supporters and friends of Baaco are pouring to his wake currently being held at the VJR Hall of the provincial capitol.