BUTUAN CITY – The communist New People’s Army (NPA), even on Indigenous People (IP) month, continues the annihilation of tribesmen who do not support its causes.
Such was the case of Boy Maca Astudillo, 47, a member of the Manobo tribe and a resident of Sitio Inadan, Barangay Magroyong in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.
Astudillo was with his 11-year-old son when killed by NPA insurgents on Saturday.
“We value much the celebration of IP month this year. But these irrational rebels disturb our tribes amidst this commemoration as they terrorize our communities and kill our helpless civilians,” Datu Rico Maca, the IP Mandatory Representative of San Miguel town, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Sunday.
He said three heavily armed rebels -- two men and a woman -- attacked Astudillo.
“Based on the testimony of my cousin’s son who witnessed the incident, one of the three NPA rebels fired an AK-47 rifle at the victim three times. He shouted at them to stop and wanted to help his father but the two other insurgents tightly held him,” Maca narrated in the vernacular.
“The son was still in shock when we arrived in the area to retrieve the cadaver of my cousin,” Maca said, while thanking the authorities for assisting the tribe.
The Surigao del Sur Police Provincial Office (SDSPPO) confirmed the killing in a report on Sunday.
SDSPPO Director Col. James Goforth, in a phone interview on Sunday, said a follow-up investigation is being conducted to determine the identity of the suspects.
“We strongly condemn these senseless killings. When will the NPA rebels stop and allow our communities and tribesmen to live freely and peacefully?” Maca asked.
Astudillo, he pointed out, was a civilian, farmer, and nephew of Datu Bernandino Astudillo, who was brutally hacked to death by NPA guerrillas, along with another tribesman, in Barangay Magroyong on March 19, 2020.
Datu Astudillo, 73, earned the ire of the rebels when he opposed their continued presence in their community.
“When Sitio Inadan and the rest of the residents of Magroyong decided to cut their ties from the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front) in 2016, Boy Astudillo was among those who surrendered to clear his name. After the surrender, he remained a civilian resident and a farmer in his community,” Maca said.
His cousin’s "sin" against the guerrillas, he added, was his continued refusal to go back to the communist movement.
“In the light of these unceasing killings, I call on all concerned, the human rights groups, and even Congresswoman Cullamat to stand up and work with the Manobo tribe of Surigao del Sur for justice for all the victims of summary executions perpetrated by the NPA guerrillas,” Maca said.
Maca was referring to Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, who was recently declared persona non grata in Surigao del Sur.
Last month, Cullamat was subjected by her fellow Manobo members to a ritual called “boney” that imposed penalties for offenses against the tribe.
“Cullamat continues to play blind and deaf as the NPA rebels, whom she has supported for years, continue to kill her tribe. Her actions and the unceasing leaning on insurgents made her forget the sufferings of the tribe where she belongs. That’s her greatest sin against us,” Maca said.
The Philippines' Anti-Terrorism Council has designated the CPP, NPA, and NDF as terrorist groups.
The United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines also listed the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization. (PNA)