BACOLOD CITY -- The New People’s Army (NPA) has claimed responsibility over the death of village chief Rhoy Pagapang of Barangay Libas in Isabela, Negros Occidental on Monday.

The Leonardo Panaligan Command-Central Negros Guerrilla Front, in a statement released to the local media on Monday night, said the 38-year-old barangay captain was a “military asset”.

Through their spokesperson JB Regalado, the rebel group said they have been warning Pagapang for his actions since they included him on their target list in 2016.

They added that Pagapang defied them by continuing to report NPA activities to the intelligence officer of the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade.

A report of the provincial police on Tuesday said Pagapang, a second term village chief, was shot to death by four unidentified men beside a sugarcane field in the neighboring Barangay Cabcab around 10 a.m.

Investigators recovered eight empty shells of .45-caliber pistol and one for 9mm-caliber pistol, the report added.

Senior Insp. Randy Babor, chief of Isabela Municipal Police Station, said in a radio interview on Tuesday that with the NPA claiming responsibility for the Pagapang murder, they will focus their investigation on the perpetrators from the rebel group.

The killing of the Libas village chief was the latest in the rebel atrocities in central Negros, which claimed the lives of barangay leaders.

On August 10, NPA assailants also gunned down former San Agustin village chief Agapito Euraoba, also in Isabela, Negros Occidental.

On the same day, the rebels shot to death village chief Virgilio Masicampo Jr. of Barangay Nagsaha, Guihulngan City.

Last July 31, they also killed Policarpio Bulado, the bodyguard of Guihulngan City Mayor Guido Reyes.

The Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Carlo Ferrer had earlier condemned what it described as “the killing rampage of the CPP-NPA’s Leonardo Panaligan Command” of innocent and defenseless civilians in central Negros. (PNA)