Hawudon Jumar Bucales, the Indigenous People Mandatory Representative of Lianga, Surigao del Sur. (PNA file photo)

BUTUAN CITY – Two Indigenous People Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs) in Surigao del Sur province lambasted the communist New People’s Army (NPA) for "spreading lies and unsubstantiated information" on the Philippine Army.

Datu Rico H. Maca, the IPMR of San Miguel town, and Jawudon Jumar Bucales of Lianga, issued a joint statement Monday (July 20) warning tribal communities in Surigao del Sur of "another wave of disinformation" allegedly being perpetrated by the NPA through its "front organizations".

Maca and Bucales said some of the NPA's legal fronts include the Save Our Schools (SOS) Caraga and Sinag.

“SOS Caraga and Sinag spread fake news on their Facebook Pages on Friday (July 17) citing false accusations saying that the military is abusing the minorities in Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur,” the two tribal leaders said.

They said the military operations conducted recently by the Army's 3rd Special Forces Battalion (3SFBn) were aimed to secure IP communities and verify the reports of the plan of the NPA to destroy the newly-constructed IP school in Sitio Simuwao, Diatagon.

“There was a military operation conducted to verify information that elements of the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) are planning to burn the new IP school in Sitio Simuwao. The plan of the CNTs also inflicted fear among the members of the Manobo tribe in the area, especially the children,” said the two IP leaders, who belong to the Manobo tribe.

They added that some tribal families temporarily left their residences to ensure their safety from the attack of the NPA.

The IP leaders said the local government of Lianga and the 3SFBn immediately attended to the needs of the 39 families who left their homes.

“The problem with SOS-Caraga, Sinag, Karapatan-Caraga, MAPASU (Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod) and other CNT-linked organizations is that they tolerate the wrongdoings and terroristic attacks of the CNTs,” the IP leaders said.

MAPASU, an IP organization in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, has long been accused by the military of having connections with the NPA, an allegation the group has repeatedly denied.

Meanwhile, Maca and Bucales also accused SOS-Caraga and the other left-leaning organizations of "playing silent every time the NPA rebels kill innocent IP leaders and create noise when government troopers perform their constitutional mandate to end the local communist armed conflict through combat operations".

“They bark like dogs when government troopers perform their tasks to secure communities and our people from the constant threats of the CNTs,” the tribal leaders said.

Another IP leader, Datu Constancio Duhac, the Manobo tribal chieftain of Lianga, said they will push for the blacklisting of left-leaning organizations in their ancestral lands.

“We are also asking President Rodrigo R. Duterte to make a decisive action against these organizations for boosting the morale of the CNTs and acting as fronts of these terrorists during combat operations,” Duhac said.

1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, 3SFBn civil-military operations officer, said in a separate interview Monday that the "spread of black propaganda" against the military by the NPA's "allied organizations" is aimed at causing alarm among communities.

On Saturday (July 18), the 3SFBn said it foiled the NPA's plan to burn the newly-built Department of Education (DepEd) IP school in Sitio Simuwao, Diatagon

Pursuit operations of the 3SFBn also led to the recovery of two dead bodies of NPA rebels in Andap Valley Complex on Sunday (July 19), the Army unit said.

One of the dead bodies was later identified as Marcelino Navarro y Tampos, alias "Marsing", the deputy secretary and head of education and propaganda of the NPA's North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC), according to 3SFBn.

Punsalan said the government troops also recovered high-power firearms, ammunition, subversive documents and personal belongings of the fleeing NPA rebels near the site where the dead bodies were recovered. (PNA)