Armed men attack Mandaya village, kill chieftain and two others



Photo source: Eden Licayan

CARAGA, Davao Oriental, January 1, 2017 – Armed men believed to be Maoist NPA terrorists attacked the Mandaya tribal village at Sitio Calapagan, Brgy. Poblacion here and murdered the tribal chieftain and two relatives about 11:30 p.m. on Friday.

Police identified the victims as Likid (Chieftain) Copertino Mabayanban Banugan, also known as Likid Coper and Datu Coper, 53, chieftain of the Mandaya Tribal Council covering Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT)-01 in Caraga and part of Bataan town in Compostela Valley Province, his 44-year old brother Ramon, and nephew Benny.

Pursuing government troops reportedly recovered a wounded from among the attackers but it cannot be independently verified.

Responding policemen engaged the attackers in a firefight as they withdrew towards the neighboring town of Manay.

Under cover of darkness, an undetermined number of unidentified armed men arrived in the village onboard two vans and threacherously attacked the houses of Banugan and his relatives.

The identities of the attackers are yet to be established but all indications and motives point to the NPA due to prior incidents.

Personnel of the Caraga Municipal Police Station under PSInsp. Anthony Gumban heard the gunfires and responded onboard a patrol car but was blocked with burnt tires and spikes at P.M. Subrecarey st. here.

The policemen were forced to walk towards the area and catched up with the withdrawing attackers who engaged them in a firefight but managed to escape towards Manay onboard the two vans.

Police recovered from the crime scene a magazine for KG9 machine pistol with three live 9 mm ammunitions, three live ammunitions for M203 Grenade Launcher, five caliber 5.56 mm ammunitions for M16 rifle, and three empty shells of spent M203 ammunition.

Banugan as chieftain was the main proponent of the Calapagan Mandaya Tribal Council policy declaring the entire CADT-01 as a “peace zone” that prohibits the entry of all armed groups.

Sometime last June, some 200 NPA men from New Bataan town in Compostela Valley, Cateel, Boston and Baganga towns, all in Davao Oriental, entered the CADT-01 area and knocked on the doors of residents including that of the late Likid Banugan.

The Tribal Chieftain reported the incident and the NPA’s meddling on purely indigenous people (IP) matters to the media.

Local newspapers particularly Sun*Star Davao come up with a story by-lined by its editor Estella Estremera. The Philippine Daily Inquirer also published a story filed by its Davao-based Correspondent Frinston Lim on the incident and Banugan’s complaint against the NPA.

The incident was repeated last November but the Tribal Council and its elders put it under wrap so as not to worsen the situation.

The NPA accused Banugan and the whole Tribal Council as “assets” of the AFP.

In its earlier statement, the Council clearly stated that they support peace & development efforts but they are against any armed group to enter in their community as they support neither the military nor the NPA.

The NPA repeatedly threatened Banugan to cease organizing the community for peace and development.
Banugan had formed three organizations: one each for the IP leaders and elders, for women, and for the youth.

Apparently the NPA disliked these sectoral groups outside their control.

Another possible motive of the NPA in killing Banugan was the Tribal Council’s decision on a land conflict of two families in Sitio Sabang where the NPA favored the losing family against the Tribal Council’s decision.

Under the leadership of Banugan, the Tribal Council vehemently detests the meddling of the NPA in the affairs of the IP especially on its decisions and those of its elders.

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