Leave them alone


15740972_1315745448447510_3517651341759856396_nDAVAO Oriental is one in condemning the killing of Likid Copertino Banugan, the Mandaya tribal leader brutally murdered by the New People’s Army, which have long been trying to enter the ancestral domain of Banugan’s people in Barangay Pichon, Caraga, Davao Oriental, but have been thwarted because of Banugan’s leadership.

Regarded for his strong rule over the areas covered by the certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT-01) and in insisting that his people carry with them the culture and ways of the Mandaya, Banugan personifies the characters of a datu as they were before.

To the NPA, he was the enemy, the land grabber, and the dictator. To his people, he was the one who pushed them to celebrate their being Mandaya, putting up the annual festival in sitio Sangab and the cultural village there, successfully bringing back what was almost forgotten 18 years ago.

He also made sure that the ancestral domain is not sold to anyone and remains a communal property of the tribe, with recognition of who among the tribesfolk have rightful occupancy of a plot.

He set up the tribe’s cultural village where they still weave and make their attires and cloths and their baylans are sought out to bless whatever endeavor the community starts on.

His death, along with his brother Ramon and nephew Benny, outside his house in Caraga Poblacion was an overkill. Not only peppered with bullets from high-powered firearms, an M203 grenade was said to have been exploded at the three as well.

The brutality of the death illustrates the long-held anger the NPA has had on Banugan, the very foundation by which his people of the Mandaya tribe respect him.

Banugan’s fate underscores what the indigenous peoples have long been trying to explain to those who are trying to talk peace with the communist rebels and the Moro rebels. The fact that the IPs are held hostage by these forces, and yet, are not given a voice and a say.

Especially with regards communist rebels, which put up bases in IP areas, the IPs cannot even raise their voices against them since the rebels are armed, they are not. When they seek government help for protection, they are called spies and are killed, just like Banugan and many before him. When they arm themselves, they are called warlords and are killed, just like Banugan and many before him. When they align with the rebels, then the government forces kill them.

Banugan’s death should be the last straw. The government by this time, should understand that the IPs are not just observers, but are the one who suffer the brunt of the conflict. They are forever hostaged by the conflicts and their development is stunted forever.

Why is that? Whenever they find partners to help them develop, their partners are harassed and their leaders are killed. When they develop themselves, they are subject to militarization from both sides.

Here’s to hoping that Peace Process Secretary Jesus G. Dureza, who has been going around consulting with IPs, fully comprehend what is happening and once and for all declare all IP communities as zones of peace where they are allowed to rule their people based on their own culture and norms, without the interference and constant agitation by the communist and the militarization of the government. (Source: sunstar.com.ph)


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.

News via (SPRINT NEWS)


NPA ambush’ civilians in Agusan


Four civilians were killed and four others, including an 8-year-old  girl, were wounded when a band of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels opened fire at an ambulance vehicle in Sitio Latay, Barangay Marfil, Rosario, Agusan del Sur Sunday afternoon (November 30, 2014).

First Lieutenant Jolito Borces, civil military operations officer of the 75th Infantry Battalion, said the ambush happened at around 5:30 p.m. while the passengers, including a barangay chairman, were on their way home from attending a church activity.

“Two died in the spot and two others declared dead on arrival at the hospital. Four others, including an 8-year-old girl, were wounded in the ambush,” Borces said.

Dead on the spot were Neljoy Cerna, 27, and Noni Mabong, 51. Dead on arrival at the hospital were Alfredo Cerna, 51, and Vanessa Sabas, 30.

The wounded were identifed as Liza Casilla, 47, Elmer Adonis, 37, Mae Roselyn Adonis, 8, and Barangay Chairman Emillio Solidor Jr., 49.

Borces said the perpetrators were members of the NPA-Guerilla Front 14 operating in the area of Agusan and Surigao del Sur.

Prior to the incident, Borces said Solidor was invited to attend the thanksgiving celebration of Wayside Bible Baptist at around 11 a.m.

At 5 p.m., Solidor left the place together with other civilians who requested to hitch a ride with him in the ambulance.

“While on their way back home at about two kilometers from the church, they were suddenly ambushed by more or less 20 NPA rebels,” Borces said.

He said the rebels were allegedly under the command of Leonida Belarmino Sanchez alias Monik/Susay, Front Secretary; Randy Subla alias Nice; Ariel Conejar Ornales alias Charlie/Jorlan/Brylle; and Renato Sayasat alias Friday.

Sources: NPA leaders tagged as behind deadly attack in Agusan Sur  / NDF: Civilian victims in Agusan ambush ‘most unfortunate’ / 4 civilians killed on the spot, 8-year-old girl, 3 others wounded in NPA ambush in Agusan Sur

Cease all Executions


At least 23 drug suspects were recently killed since the inauguration of President Duterte on June 30. Among these, 22 suspected drug related killings were done outside police operations and the increasing number of killings have alarmed human rights advocates. Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of people’s lawyers, said the killings must be halted.

“There’s a danger that Duterte’s electoral victory may be seen as a symbolic victory for a notion that’s already spreading in the Philippines: that extrajudicial vigilante-style killings of suspected criminals is a legitimate approach to crime control,” said Phelim Kine, deputy director of Human Rights Watch for Asia.

Seemingly, this action taken by the “vigilantes” is in consonance with the NPA’s implementation of its ‘Kangaroo Court’, a justice system wherein the one that tries is also the one that executes alleged offenders.  This also manifests the NPA’s gross disregard for human rights.

President Duterte’s hard-line stance on crime is wildly popular in Davao. Raul Tolentino, 82, who has practiced law here since the 1960s, said that popularity stemmed from the 1980s, when Communist insurgents plagued the region and the city was notorious for bloody mayhem. Mr. Tolentino recalled armed rebel groups entering the city at will, and criminal gangs engaging in shootouts in broad daylight.

For more than 40 years, the NPA’s ‘armed struggle’ has not solved any of the country’s problems but has caused even more problems.  Four decades of armed struggle have also brought senseless deaths and miseries to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos and destroyed the future of many of our youths.  The use of violence in pursuing political, economic and social objectives is really not acceptable and should be condemned.

Claims by the NPA that defendants receive a fair hearing during its people’s court proceedings are not supported by the facts, Human Rights Watch said. Philip Alston, the former United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions who investigated extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in 2007, described the people’s courts as “either deeply flawed or simply a sham.”

The NPA has long admitted to killing government officials and civilians whom the NPA deems to have engaged in acts “against the people.” They have also killed allegedly traitorous NPA or Communist Party members.

On April 21, 2014, NPA rebels shot and killed Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. of Gonzaga town, Cagayan province.  On July 27, 2012, they killed Datu Causing Ogao, a leader of an indigenous people’s group, in Davao City. On February 28, 2011, they killed Jeffrey Nerveza, a civilian, in Albay, Bicol. On August 19, 2011, the NPA killed Raymundo “Monding” Agaze in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental. On July 13, 2010, NPA members shot and killed Mateo Biong, Jr., a former mayor of Giporlos town, Eastern Samar. That same month, they shot and killed Sergio Villadar, a sugar cane farmer, in Escalante City, Negros Occidental. All of these people, the NPA claimed, had been found guilty by its people’s courts.

In its October 25, 2015 statement announcing the deaths of the Otazas, the NPA said it is waging a “people’s war” and it “has been pursuing revolutionary justice by meting appropriate capital punishment against war criminals to remove the continuation of the human rights violations and render justice.”

As a party to an internal armed conflict, the NPA and Vigilante groups are obligated to abide by international humanitarian law, including common article 3 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its Second Additional Protocol of 1977 (Protocol II), to which the Philippines is party. International humanitarian law prohibits killing civilians, mistreating anyone in custody, and convicting anyone in proceedings that do not meet international fair trial standards. Article 6 of Protocol II specifies that criminal courts must be independent and impartial, and the accused shall have “all necessary rights and means of defense,” among other guarantees. Those tried by people’s courts are typically convicted in absentia, thus denied the right to be tried in one’s presence before an impartial court.

We call on the NUPL and other Human Rights Advocates to condemn the summary executions or killings of helpless civilians. The NPA and vigilantes should end this charade of unjust ‘people’s courts’ and cease all executions.





Filipinos should never forget Digos massacre

It is quite common these days to read from the newspapers violence being perpetrated by the communist New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) that most Filipinos no longer care as long they are not the poor victims. People have become so passive that when rebels committed atrocities to civilians, none would make a fuss about it or chastise the perpetrators — except for the families of the victims and the authorities. None would take the initiative to launch a crusade to seek justice. This is also what happened 27 years ago today.

Pinoy Redwatch Video

Very few would likely remember that on June 25, 1989, in a small village in Digos, Davao Del Sur, 39 people, many of them children, were mercilessly gunned-down by CPP-NPA rebels while they were attending a Sunday mass. Two of the victims, UCCP Pastor Ruben Ayap and his brother were beheaded. The motive: the village leaders refused to cooperate with the rebels. The CPP-NPA general command later admitted responsibility for the brutal killings and promised indemnification of the families of victims, which never happened.

The incident which became known as the “Digos Massacre,” captured the national attention back then. The entire country was enraged by the carnage. However, none have taken the matter too seriously except the government. Even the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), later on, in an ironic twist, gravitated towards the left who perpetrated the killings of its flock. It even placed the blame on the government. Eventually, the incident slowly faded in the people’s memory. There was no justice attained.

Now, after two decades since the Digos incident, the CPP-NPA continue to perpetrate atrocities without remorse, especially now that they are operating more and more like a criminal gang (or, rather, several dozen separate gangs united by ideology and tactics). Aside from killing civilians opposed to them, they have also ventured into numerous criminal activities like extortion, robbery, raids, etc in order to get the money to buy needed supplies and provide for the families of the leadership. Sadly, even up to now, the people remained passive of them.

When will the people take active role in condemning the CPP-NPA? Will it take another “Digos Massacre” for the people to act? The fight against the CPP-NPA is not solely the duty of the government. It is the duty of every freedom-loving Filipinos who abhor violence and value justice. If the people will not provide even vocal support, the effort to defeat the rebel-turned bandits will be futile. The Filipinos should not remain deaf and blind. This is the least they can do for the victims of the “Digos Massacre” and the numerous other victims of CPP-NPA cruelty.

This article was written in remembrance of the victims of the Digos Massacre . May their souls rest in peace.


Religious leader stabbed to death by NPA rebels

npa killing - baguizCAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — A former policeman who founded a religious group was believed killed by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Monday, authorities said Tuesday.

Stabbed to death was Francisco Baguiz, a retired police officer and founder of Apocalypse International Ministry, Inc. (AIM, Inc.) based in Sitio Sioan in Barangay Malinao in Gingoog City.

Police said Baguiz was driving his car when he was flagged down by armed men wearing Army uniforms in Sitio Kibalikin in Malinao.

SPO4 Teddy Macarayo of the Gingoog police said Baguiz got out of the vehicle and must have thought that it was soldiers who flagged him down.

Macarayo said Baguiz was handcuffed and brought by the armed men to a secluded area where he was stabbed four times. He did not reach the hospital alive.

Witnesses identified the suspects as NPA rebels, police added.

The NPA has not issued a statement on Baguiz’s killing yet. -newsinfo.inquirer.net

Indigenous leader killed in Bukidnon

REPOST: Slain Umayamnon tribal leader Datu Benjamin Omao was the first ever selected to be the indigenous people’s mandatory representative in the history of the Malaybalay City Council.

As part of the preparations for legislation, he consulted mandatory representatives from the city’s 46 barangays in 2012 to arrive at an eight-point legislative agenda of the indigenous peoples in the city. Omao, an Umayamnon based in Miglamin village, said the eight points were “equally important” but the most crucial “at the moment” is for the IPs to build a strong indigenous political structure.

Omao was killed by six suspected CPP-NPA hitmen dressed in tribal dress in his office around 8:30 a.m. Monday while he was meeting a fellow IP mandatory representative from Aglayan village. Police report as of May 18 identified IP representative Thelma Sarento, 62, and Omao’s aide Samuel Talucdo, 48, who were with him in the meeting. Both were reported to be hurt in the incident – Sarento in her left hand and Talucdo in his right foot.

Omao died right away while the two injured were brought to the Malaybalay Polymedic General Hospital, police said.

Datu Richard Macas, IP mandatory representative to the Bukidnon provincial board, said Omao’s death leaves a vacuum in the city council. It will take some time for the city’s 46 IP mandatory representatives to convene and select his replacement.

In an interview after his selection in 2012, Omao said the IP mandatory representatives to the local legislative bodies are important for the local government so they can include the IP agenda. In coming out with the “Lumad agenda”, his office consulted IP leaders in their areas, including IPs who have become professionals, and the academe.

For the city, he had to present the final draft of the IP agenda to the city council. But for Omao, there was no need for city councilors to debate on it as it is the IPs’ agenda.

Omao said the political agenda covers the capability building needed for the tribal elders and leaders of the indigenous political structures and indigenous people’s organizations in accordance with policies provided by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

He said strengthening the IPs’ political systems is important, especially because Lumads are subjected to exploitation by political leaders.

“They divide the IP communities by choosing their own pet tribal leaders without recognizing those selected through traditional means,” Omao added in the interview at the Bukidnon Institute of Catechetic in Malaybalay City.

He said the timing was ripe then to strengthen the IPs’ political systems because of the then upcoming 2013 elections.

According to a copy of his legislative agenda, the political issues also include strengthening of the IP tribunal system in customary process of conflict transformation, enforcement of tribal jurisprudence and customary laws.

Thepigsaligans, or the mandatory representatives to the local councils, have to go through capacity-building, too, he added. The Lumad leader also pointed out the need to create a grievance council to help address IP concerns.

Among the basic component of the political agenda is to strengthen IP family relations through solemnization of tribal marriages, he added.

Omao said the promotion of welfare and well-being of IP communities is also a paramount agenda for IP leaders to push in local governance.

He cited nine target interventions in the agenda, including capability-building for entrepreneurial management, livelihood and development, promotions and marketing of IP products. The other interventions include indigenous crafts development, promotions and marketing; communal livelihood program; and livelihood programs for IP women.

Omao also included community-based eco-tourism program; sustainable and responsible use or extraction of natural resources in accordance with existing laws and guidelines of the state, and customs, traditions and policies of the Lumads.

The economic interventions cited agricultural practices such as promotion of natural farming techniques in agricultural production, sustainable propagation and production of indigenous crops, and establishment of farm and other vegetable products “landing area,” or what is called locally as “bagsakan.”

Omao said the bagsakan is foremost because local farmers are exploited as to the pricing of their produce in neighboring Cagayan de Oro City, where their products are brought from the farms.

His legislative agenda also covered integrity of the IP culture, access to quality education that does not endanger the integrity of the IP culture; the protection, conservation and rehabilitation of the environment for a balanced ecology; secured ownership of ancestral domains and lands; access to basic services that are responsive to the needs and sensitive to the culture of the Lumads; and maintenance of peace and security in IP territories and communities.

He also pushed for the establishment of the IP college in Upper Pulangi area, the city’s remote district at its border with Agusan del Sur.

That year, in 2012, the province of Bukidnon was known to be the first in the country to have selected complete mandatory representatives at the municipal and city levels and a provincial representative in the person of Datu Salimbungan Mayda Pandian. Pandian died of illness last year.

Omao also tried to clarify his ancestors’ decision in relating to conquerors even as he said present day commemoration of the foundation of towns in Bukidnon lacked “sense of history” and understanding of the people who built the place as a settlement before colonizers arrived.

Omao said Datu Mampaalong, one of the better known heroes of the city, accepted Spanish rule because the Lumad “wanted peace to prevail in Malaybalay.”

He said it should not be viewed as a surrender of their heritage and identity.

“If there is no peace and order, there won’t be real progress, development,” he said.

Omao said the city government, too, should manifest its vision for the Lumad in the city, including how to promote respect of their culture and customary laws.

“Foremost, there has to be recognition of the Lumad’s ancestral domain,” he said, as the Lumad are the “owners” of Malaybalay.

The datu said the city government must help the Lumad restore their economic system, particularly the indigenous farming system as against the synthetic farming brought by outsiders.

Omao said the value of looking at history lies in its implications on the city’s present day peace and order situation.

One important lesson, he said, is to involve the indigenous way of settling disputes. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews contributor)