BUTUAN CITY – Indigenous peoples (IPs) leaders in Surigao del Sur and parts of Mindanao decried anew the continued killings done by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) among Manobo tribesmen in the area.
Datu Rico Maca, the IP Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of San Miguel town, lambasted the NPA for the killing of two Manobos in the area last Friday (August 28).
“The Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) are again into their killing-spree, this time, shooting to death two Manobo tribesmen, one of whom was a minor,” Maca told the Philippine News Agency on Sunday.
He said Arnel Cuarteron Martinez, 19, a Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) member and Jeffrey Cuarteron, 17, a civilian, were mercilessly shot and killed by NPA rebels in the evening of August 28 in Barangay Bayugo, Madrid, Surigao del Sur.
“The people identified the killers as CNT members led by Noel Tumarlas Alacre, alias Megan, the leader of Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda (SYP) of Guerrilla Front (GF) 30,” Maca said.
He stressed that Martinez was off-duty at that time as he just arrived from the hinterlands of Barangay Bayogo to do some gold panning — the usual grind that civilians do in the area to earn additional income to survive their families.
“The wife of Martinez is still four-month pregnant of their first child. He would usually go out when off-duty to do some gold panning to find extra income for his family. Unfortunately, the CNTs killed him that evening,” Maca said.
He also decried the killing of the minor Cuarteron whom he said was only suspected by the NPA of being an informer of the military.
“It’s that easy for them to kill our fellow Manobo tribesmen. Even on mere suspicion they go out and kill. They spare no one, even the minors,” Maca said.
Maca condemned the killing, describing it as inhuman as he called for justice for the victims and their families.
Pretending to be human rights defenders
A separate statement of condemnation was also issued by Lipatuan Joel Unad of the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Council of Elders and Leaders on Sunday.
“We, therefore, call on the CTG (Communist Terrorist Group) who pretends to be human rights defenders to stop the genocide and respect the rights of the Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) and Indigenous Peoples (IPs),” Unad said.
Maca also called on those IPs who continue to adhere to the ideology of the NPA to come back to the folds of the law and help the government in attaining peace in their ancestral lands.
“They must realize that the communist party is just using them to fight the other tribal members who refuse to follow their ideology. The CNT wants us divided so that they can go on with their sinister agenda in our communities and ancestral lands,” Maca said.
He also challenged Rep. Eufemia C. Cullamat of Bayan Muna Party-list to come to Surigao del Sur and conduct an investigation on the killings done by the NPA to the members of her tribe.
“Rep. Cullamat is a Manobo from Surigao del Sur. Yet, despite the series of killings among the members of her tribe by the CNTs, she continues to be silent and mum,” Maca said.
He emphasized that Cullamat is constantly wearing the Manobo attire, a manifestation that she continues to recognize herself as part of the tribe.
“If she fails to make a move to look into these killings done by the CNTs, she better stop wearing the Manobo attire. It’s a shame wearing that dress that symbolizes one’s belongingness to the Manobo tribe yet, during this time, especially when our members are being executed by the CNTs, she is very silent,” Maca said.
Last month, Surigao del Sur Governor Alexander Pimentel also issued a statement condemning the NPA for the series of IP killings in the province.
The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (PNA)