Saturday, March 21, 2020

Army, NCIP slam killing of IP leader in Surigao Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21, 2020): Army, NCIP slam killing of IP leader in Surigao Sur (By Alexander Lopez)

KILLED BY COMMUNIST REBELS. Datu Bernandino Montenegro Astudillo, 73, the Manobo tribal chieftain of Barangay Magroyong, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, who was killed by suspected New People’s Army rebels on Thursday evening (March 19). Communist guerillas also killed a civilian during the attack on the predominantly Manobo settlement. (Photo courtesy of Councilor Rico Maca, IPMR, Municipality of San Miguel)

The Philippine Army and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples in Caraga Region (NCIP-13) condemned Thursday's killing of a tribal chieftain and a civilian in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.

Some 20 suspected communist New People's Army (NPA) fighters attacked a predominantly Manobo settlement in Barangay Magroyong and killed Datu Bernandino Montenegro Astudillo, 73, the village's tribal chieftain.

The armed men also killed Zaldy Ibañez, 52.

Astudillo and Ibañez were both hacked to death, police and local officials said.

“We strongly condemn this barbaric act of the CNTs (Communist New People’s Army Terrorists) as they continue to destroy innocent civilians and Indigenous Peoples’ (IPs) lives,” said Lt. Col. Jezreel Diagmel, acting commander of the Army's 36th Infantry Battalion of the Army in the province.

Surigao del Sur Provincial Police Office (SDSPPO) director, Col. James Goforth, said residents in the area identified the attackers as NPA guerillas.
Goforth said Ibañez was a former rebel who surrendered to the Philippine National Police (PNA) in November last year. The communist rebels have been known to turn against their former members.

Goforth said the communist rebels responsible for the attack on the Manobo village were members of the NPA's Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda 1 of the "weakened" Guerilla Front 30 (GF30) led by a certain Joel Mahinay.

Diagmel lambasted the NPA for "taking advantage" of the government's ceasefire declaration and "while the Army and the PNP are occupied" in helping various line agencies in preventing the spread of the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Surigao del Sur.

“I call on the human rights advocates to investigate these killings to give justice to the families of the victims,” Diagmel said.

He also urged the remaining NPA rebels to stop the killing of civilians and IP leaders, "abandon their futile armed struggle and return to the fold of the law."

Meanwhile, NCIP-13 director Ferdausi Cerna was saddened by the news of Astudillo’s murder.

“The killing of Datu Bernandino Montenegro Astudillo, a defenseless 73- year-old IP leader, is not an isolated case,” Cerna told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The killing of Astudillo, he pointed out, "is part of the killing spree done by those who are threatened by decisive tribal leaders."

“Truly, my heart is heavy as news like these seems to never cease, but so shall your reckoning,” he added.

Cerna also appealed to tribal leaders in Surigao del Sur and the rest of Caraga not to be deterred by the recent killing but to continue the fight for the rights of the IPs.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.