By FROILAN GALLARDO
and JOEY NACALABAN
SUSPECTED rebels brutally killed a prominent farmer-businessman in his bee farm in Barangay Tikalaan, Talakag town in Bukidnon, on Wednesday afternoon.
As a team of police officers from the Talakag Police Station responded, the armed group greeted them with gunfire in an ambush staged on a road in Km. 23, Tikalaan.
Camp Alagar spokesman Supt. Surki Sereñas identified the victim as businessman-farmer Wenceslao Caumban Jr., a prominent member of Xavier University’s Batch 1975 and a University of the Philippins-Los Banos graduate.
Police said they believe the killers are members of the New People’s Army and the ambush could have been their tactic to delay responding police officers. No one was hurt in the ambush and the ensuing sporadic exchange of gunfire.
“The ambush of our responding troops only led us to think that the NPA could have been involved in the killing,” Sereñas said.
Sereñas said investigators were looking into the possibility that it was a case of extortion or plain and simple robbery that resulted in the brutal killing.
Sereñas said Caumban, who was in his blue Toyota Revo, was on the way to pay his workers when suspected rebels waylaid him in Km. 27 in Barangay Tikalaan.
He said Caumban’s killer stabbed him to the neck thrice and once to the right eye.
Sereñas said a team of 25 police officers responded but was attacked by still unidentified gunmen at Km. 23, Barangay Tikalaan, four kilometers from Caumban’s bee farm.
“The gunfire was intense that we decided not to proceed to the crime scene,” Talakag police chief Insp. Jessie James Lasdoce said.
Lasdoce said it was the police officers from Kalilangan, Bukidnon who were able to retrieve the body of Caumban.
He said police from Kalilangan town also found the victim’s blue Toyota Revo at around 10 am yesterday.
Sereñas said police were investigating the possibility that the victim had a huge amount of money to pay his workers at that time.
“We are still investigating this but one is sure is that it was the NPA that killed Caumban, and it was their blocking force that fired at the responding policemen from Talakag,” he said.
Sereñas said witnesses told the police that they saw several armed men wearing military uniforms, ganging up on Caumban.
“There was a commotion and somebody hacked the victim,” Sereñas said.
The death of Caumban came as a shock to members of Xavier University Batch 75 and the regional office of the Department of Agriculture where his wife, Cita, works in Cagayan de Oro.
“Caumban does not carry a gun because he was a peace-loving person,” his classmate Chito Lluch said.
Journalist Uriel Quilinguing, one of his classmates, said Caumban and another classmate had their morning coffee in one of the coffee shops here before he left for his farm.
He said the victim intended to visit his sick old father in Kalilangan after his farm.
On Nov. 11, 2017, a child was killed and two other civilians were wounded when NPA rebels ambushed a police patrol in Barangay Tikalaan.
The civilians and the child were in a Toyota Fortuner following a police car when the rebels opened fire.
The NPA rebels admitted responsibility and apologized for the incident but President Duterte cited this incident as one of the reasons why he called off the peace talks.