IP leader demands justice after NPA leader surrender in Surigao Sur

By Alexander Lopez

May 3, 2024, 6:10 pm

<p>Datu Rico Maca, IPMR San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. <em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

Datu Rico Maca, IPMR San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. (PNA file photo)

BUTUAN CITY – The Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of San Miguel, Surigao del Sur has demanded justice for the killings perpetrated by the communist New People's Army (NPA) following the surrender of a rebel leader accused of masterminding the deaths of several Manobo tribesmen.

"We are happy that Joel Maca has decided to abandon the communist movement after years of disturbing and sowing fear among our communities," IPMR Datu Rico Maca said in a phone interview Friday.

Joel Maca, the NPA's former deputy secretary of Guerrilla Front 30 under the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee, surrendered on April 26.

The two are distant relatives and belong to the Manobo tribe.

Joel and his wife, along with four other NPA rebels, turned themselves in to the Army's 36th Infantry Battalion.

They also pinpointed areas in the province where materiel of the rebels were concealed, leading to the recovery of 12 high-powered firearms and ammunition.

Still, Rico Maca said Joel and his group should face justice for the alleged killings of several IP members in San Miguel and other parts of Surigao del Sur.

"He is also the prime suspect in the killing of Datu Bernardino Astudillo, the tribal chieftain of Barangay Magroyong, San Miguel, in March 2020," Rico said.

But Rico said the tribe remains open to forgive Joel, according to their customs, adding that the "cleansing process" emphasizes the tribe's deep-rooted values of reconciliation and harmony within the community.

"As the IPMR of San Miguel, I will personally lead the preparations and meet with the tribal leaders regarding the possibility of the cleansing process. This will also need the consent of the leaders, especially those whose members were once victimized by Joel's group," he said. (PNA)