Army, village officials sued over Lake Sebu incident

By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

July 27, 2018, 10:15 pm

MANILA -- The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) has sued before the Department of Justice (DOJ) three Army officials and three barangay (village) executives in South Cotobato over their alleged involvement in the so called “Lake Sebu Massacre.”

In a complaint dated July 26, the NUPL, representing the families of the victims, filed seven counts of murder and two counts of frustrated murder against the respondents 10th Infantry Division (ID) commander Maj. Gen. Noel Clement and his subordinates, 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB) commander Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, and 27th IB commander Lt. Col. Benjamin Leande.

Named respondents also include the local officials -- Barangay Captain Bebot Nobleta, Kagawad Melencio Tungkay, and Indigenous People Mandatory Representative Arturo Labi-- of Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu.

The NUPL accused the respondents of killing seven members of Lumad from T’boli-Dulangan Manobo and B’laan indigenous tribes and hurting two others during the incident that took place on Dec. 3, 2017 in Lake Sebu.

Killed during the incident were Datu Victor Danyan Sr., Victor Danyan Jr., Artemio Danyan, Tho Diamante, Mateng Bontal, Pato Ceralbo, and Samuel Angkoy. The two wounded Lumad members were Bosing Danyan and Jeffrey Danyan.

In a letter dated July 26 to Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon, NUPL lawyer Katherine Panguban said the families decided to file the complaint in Manila instead in South Cotabato for security reasons.

“They are currently seeking refuge in Metro Manila following the continued and intensified militarization of their community in South Cotabato as a consequence of the imposition of Mindanao-wide Martial law,” the letter read.

The NUPL also sought the prosecution of officials and personnel of the Bagumbayan Police Station in Sultan Kudarat for arbitrary detention for the illegal arrest of another Lumad, Jamel Culano, last Dec. 6, 2017.

The military claimed that the incident was an encounter between government troops and Danyan’s group who were allegedly members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. (PNA)