VILLAGE CHIEF SHOT TO DEATH. Photo shows the body of Virgelio Loquias, the village chief of San Antonio, Hilongos town killed by suspected New People's Army rebels on Thursday (August 15, 2019). A Philippine Army official has asked the public to condemn the killing. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army's 802nd Infantry Brigade)

TACLOBAN CITY – A Philippine Army official on Thursday asked the public to condemn the killing of a village chief by suspected members of the New People’s Army in an upland community in Hilongos, Leyte.

“We are calling the people to stand and fight the inhumane, senseless, and brutal actions of this organization. Do not let these brigands run fear to our community,” said Gen. Lope Dagoy, commander of the Philippine Army’s 802nd Infantry Brigade based in Ormoc City.

The military official made the statement after the killing of Virgelio Loquias, 43, the chief of upland San Antonio village in Hilongos town.

Loquias was fishing around 1 p.m. on Thursday in a creek when four armed men attacked him.

The victim’s father-in-law, Romeo Adobas, and two other companions, Antonio delos Santos and Julius Britania, were spared by the gunmen.

The Philippine National Police, citing accounts of witnesses, said the suspected rebels asked the village chief to lie down on his stomach and said: “this person has a grave offense to our organization that is why [our] camp was raided.”

The gunmen then shot Loquias to death.

Dagoy said the latest crime committed by the New People’s Army is proof that the terrorist group is a “destroyer of peace.”

The local policemen were unable to process the crime scene as the area was inaccessible to all types of vehicles and can only be reached through a three-hour hike from the nearest road network in Hilaan village in Bontoc, Southern Leyte.

The military has been stepping up its operation in the southern part of Leyte province as armed rebels have been attempting to move south Leyte after they were “pressured by military operations” in northern and western parts of Leyte province.

The communist group, which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)