DOJ orders probe on militant groups' members slay in Bicol

MANILA — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered a thorough investigation into the deaths of three individuals last week in the Bicol region who were identified as members of groups Karapatan and Bayan Muna.

DOJ Undersecretary Markk Perete, in a message to reporters, confirmed that Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has approved the creation of two special investigating teams (SIT) to be led by prosecutors to investigate the three killings.

"Acting pursuant to Administrative Order No. 35, the Secretary of Justice directed the prosecutors to head the investigating teams tasked to ascertain if the incidents are politically motivated, and to assist in the build-up of cases for the successful prosecution of those responsible."

The prosecutors are required to submit their report to the AO 35 Secretariat within 30 days from the creation of the SIT, Perete said.

Ryan Hubilla and Nelly Bagasala, alleged members of Karapatan, were reported killed in Sorsogon on June 15.

On the other hand, Neptali Moraga, former Bayan Muna Bicol regional coordinator, was killed in Naga, Camarines Sur on June 17.

A National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) official earlier expressed fear that the recent killing of the two human rights group members in Sorsogon is allegedly the handiwork of the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).