MANILA – The National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) urged the law enforcers to immediately bring justice to two indigenous people (IP) members, including a tribal chieftain, who were murdered by the New People’s Army (NPA) despite the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Rodrigo Duterte with the communist rebels.
“I have called our respective law enforcement to bring swift justice to the tribal community,” NCIP chair Allen Capuyan said in a statement on Saturday.
Capuyan, also executive director of the National Task Force on Ending Local Communist and Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Secretariat, said around 20 fully armed NPA members attacked Barangay Magroyong, a tribal village in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, on March 19.
He said 73-year-old Datu Bernandino “Bandi” M. Astudillio and 52-year-old farmer Zaldy Ibañez were “hacked and stabbed to death” in front of their families and the indigenous community.
The attack took place a day after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of military operations (SOMO) from March 19 to April 15 to pave the way for the government’s response to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“Their blood now forever stained their ancestral land. May Magbabaya (the Ruler of All) grant them refuge and peace,” Capuyan said. “We cannot let fear reign in a peaceful community: our ancestral domains. We are now tasked to bring justice whether before the laws of men or God, the perpetrators of this cruel crime. And we will do so forcefully.”
He said the NPA had repeatedly threatened to execute Datu Bandi, after five family members surrendered to the government.
Capuyan, a Manobo himself, said the killing of Datu Bandi and Ibañez was another proof that the NPA, armed wing of the CPP, “does not respect the very basic tenets of humanity.”
“As a terrorist organization, it has been wrong for us to expect the NPA for reprieve in these extremely difficult times,” he said. “Rather, we should have known that the NPA to act as it always does, to exploit the miseries of our nation and sow fear and violence upon our people.”
He offered his heartfelt and deepest condolences to the bereaved families.
“As your fellow Manobo, my heart is filled with sadness and anger. I join you in your prayers. I pray that this senseless violence may never found our community again,” Capuyan said.
‘CPP virus’ worse than Covid-19
Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations and a ranking officer of NTF-ELCAC, likened the CPP, under its founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, to a virus that destroys the brain of the Filipinos.
“The Covid-19 may seem worse because it hit the globe in a matter of days, but the CPP virus is more dangerous to us Filipinos because it has the strain of a fellow Filipino turned-traitor Jose Ma Sison. Hence, the CPP virus is originally designed to destroy the Filipino brain,” Parlade tweeted on Saturday.
“It has been attacking our homes, our church, our institutions, and our government for decades. The CPP virus has already killed close to 80,000 of our loved ones, and we didn’t even realize it,” he added.
Parlade also questioned the National Union of Philippine Lawyers (NUPL) and Bayan Muna for keeping mum on the murder of Datu Bandi and Ibañez.
“Let’s ask [Bayan Muna] Representative Karlo Zarate, Neri Colmenares, and NUPL President Edre Olalia if they can add this in their Bulletin: Is it not a crime for the NPA to murder civilians and IPs, especially during SOMO when the AFP is focused on assisting our countrymen to fight and survive this COVID-91?,” he said.
He said it is only now that the government, through the NTF-ELCAC, “really paid attention to this malaise”.
The NTF-ELCAC is the multi-pronged approach of Executive Order 70 that the government created to put an end to the treacherous life cycle of the more than five decades of insurgency brought by the CPP-NPA.
The EO 70, which was signed by Duterte in December 2018, created NTF ELCAC that institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in obtaining exclusive and sustainable peace.
CPP-NPA has been tagged as terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the Philippines, and New Zealand. (PNA)