Suspected communist rebels kidnapped and killed a town mayor, who was a former guerrilla, and his son in the southern Philippines, agencies reported quoting the military.

Mayor Dario Otaza

Agusan Mayor Dario Otaza, 53, and his 27-year-old son Daryl were abducted from their house in Butuan City, 800 km south of Manila, Monday evening.

Their bodies were found Tuesday morning by the Philippine Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion, who were  pursuing the kidnappers, in the vicinity of Purok 2, Barangay Bitan-agan, Butuan City, said Lieutenant Aurelio Balabad, a regional military commander.

“Their bodies were tied together,” he added. “They sustained multiple gunshot wounds in different parts of their body,” said Balabad.

The area was secured by the Army troops.

Otaza and Daryl were kidnapped from their home in the village of Baan, Butuan City, Agusan del Sur around 6.50 pm Monday.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr condemned the murder and assured that the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces will bring the perpetrators to justice.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this cowardly act. We hope that Mayor Otaza’s death unites the people of Agusan del Sur, the Manobos and the entire Lumad community, and every decent Filipino in working sincerely towards lasting and meaningful peace,” he said.

Coloma said Otaza was a Manobo, a Lumad and a former NPA rebel himself who has been an “invaluable partner for peace” in the region following his surrender.

“His programs to ensure that former rebels have the means to lead dignified lives as part of mainstream society have encouraged many insurgents to lay down their arms. Observers have lauded the success of these programs,” Coloma said.

Undersecretary Manny Bautista said Otaza was a local partner of the national government’s Serbisyo Caravan and he helped facilitate the surrender of 154 NPA rebels.

However, rebels alleged that since Otaza became mayor of Loreto in 2013, he started a reign of terror in the town.

Communist rebels have been fighting against the government since the late 1960s, making it one of the longest-running leftist insurgencies in Asia.

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