Surigao province’s tribal chieftains decried the alleged lies being perpetuated by lawmakers belonging to the so-called Makabayan Bloc concerning the recent killing of three of their tribe members who were forced to join the New People’s Army (NPA).
At the weekly virtual press conference of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Datu Constancio Duhac, chieftain of Lianga, Surigao del Sur asked to respect the ongoing independent investigation of the tribal council of Lianga, which is covered by the Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA).
Duhac also refuted the claims of the Makabayan Bloc that the remains of the slain Manobo tribe members killed in a clash with government troops in Barangay Diatagan in Lianga town last June 15 were desecrated and left behind.
He added, while the military admitted that the victims were killed in an encounter, they (soldiers) respected the tribal customary laws by giving back the bodies to their families and provided help.
It should be noted that there are calls by the Makabayan Bloc to investigate the incident which the tribal leaders described as “sowing misinformation specially in social media” to gain sympathies and dollar donations from their benefactors abroad.
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and National Democratic Front. (NDF).
“Dapat irespeto naman ang tribal council ng Lianga. Hindi kami dapat maipit dito,”’Duhac said referring to the longest problem besetting their community—the recruitment of their tribe members to the CTG which also forcibly abducting their youth to join and used as their combatants.
Datu Alexander Bucales whose eldest brother was also killed by the NPAs for his solid stand in rejecting the CTGs, said their “customary laws” must always be respected.
“Mayroon kaming sariling imbestigasyon, ang Surigao Provincial Tribal Council. Respetuhin niyo naman ang aming customary laws. Hindi kami mga Datu na appointed ng CPP-NPA,” Bucales said.
“Tinatawagan namin lalo na ang Save Our School Network, si Chad Booc na tigilan na ang misinformation. Kami ang namatayan,” Bucales said, referring to the CPP-NPA-NDF militant fronts as well as Makabayan Bloc members who are now pushing for the military to leave the province.
“Persona non grata na si (Bayan Muna Rep.) Eufemia Cullamat . Last month may lima sa aming kasama ang dinukot, hanggang ngayon ay di pa namin nakikita,Bucales said.
Bucales said they even campaigned for Cullamat upon learning that she will be a nominee for the Bayan Muna Partylist but after winning the election “tinalikuran niya kami.” Bucales said hat they have also called the attention of Surigao del Sur Gov. Alexander Pimentel to do something to stop the CTG and left-leaning organizations infiltrating their communities.
Pimentel, for his part, said the problem has long been there since he was appointed governor during the time of the late President Corazon Aquino in 1986 and had tried to implement development projects like building roads.
For him, if the supposed schools like the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) were closed down long time ago, there will be no IP youth recruited by the NPA.