Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Tribal Leader Belies SOS Network's Claim Over Death of Lumad Boy

LUMAD tribal leader belied the claim of Save Our Schools (SOS) Network that the paramilitary group, Alamara, was behind the killing of the 15-year-old Grade 3 student of the Salugpongan School in Talaingod town, Davao del Norte last Sunday.

Rather, the boy just happened to be a relative of a member of the New People’s Army who killed another tribesman and in the process of pangayaw, a tribal vendetta called against any member of the accused tribe or family, the boy became the prey.

The slain student was identified as Alibando Tingkas, who hails from sitio Jose Balimba Libayao in Barangay Sto. NiƱo in Talaingod.

He was reportedly killed at Sitio Laslasakan in Barangay Palma Gil of the same town.

In a statement earlier released to the media, SOS Network spokesperson Rius Valle said Tingkas was reportedly killed by a member of the Alamara identified as Joven Salangani.

Based on witnesses' accounts, Salangani and an unidentified companion was seen with the victim when the incident happened. Valle said that Alamara, like the Magahat-Bagani in Surigao del Sur and other paramilitary groups in Mindanao, are believed to be funded and organized by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to augment their forces for its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan in Mindanao.

But Datu Lumansad Sibogan, member of the board of trustees of the Ata-Manobo Tribal Council of Elders Association in Talaingod, clarified that Alamara has nothing to do with the death of his grandson Tingkas.

Sibogan said Salangani and his unidentified companion are members of the New People’s Army (NPA) under a certain Kumander Jose.

He added that the motive behind the incident was personal grudge, after Salangani's cousin identified as Donato was killed by NPA rebels.

Donato was harvesting abaca with his wife, daughters and other companions when he was shot to death by the rebels at Sitio Sambulangan in Barangay Baugan.

In retaliation, Salangani attacked and killed Tingkas, a member of the tribe who has relatives belonging to NPA group that killed Donato.

Sibogan said Donato reportedly declared “pangayaw” against the NPA after learning that his daughter, Tessie, 18, died while staying at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran Compound in Davao City.

Unfortunately, Donato never saw the remains of her daughter.

"Walay Alamara. Kanang istorya sa Haran damgo rana. Mao na ang tinuod. Ako, gikan ko sa kalihokan sauna, kabalo ko niana. Nihawa lang ko sa kalihokan tungod wala nako kasabot sa pamaagi nila. Kanang kagubot karon sa Talaingod tungod lang nasa NPA jud (Alamara doesn't exist. I used to be a member of the NPA but I left the rebel movement. That conflict in Talaingod is caused by the NPA)," Sibogan said.

According to the Office of the Ata-Manobo Council of Elders of Talaingod, Colorot Salangani, wife of Donato, reported that his husband was attacked by rebels using M4, AK-47 and M14 rifles. She identified the rebels who killed her husband as Luib Daus, Dalahis Manlulugpis, and Tudtud Ladahay.

Sibogan appealed to the non-government organization (NGO), militant groups, rebels and even the military, to let the lumads resolved the conflict.

He also appealed to the groups who brought the lumads to Haran to let them go home, as tribal leaders’ wants conflict resolution done through their own ways and tradition based on their customary laws.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Davao linked Tingkas death to pangayaw or tribal war.

CHR lawyer Irene Joy Tala-Montero told reporters in an interview that CHR investigators will go to the area to conduct an in-depth investigation on the reported incident.

"We will conduct an in-depth investigation on this and if the CHR will find that there is a human rights violation, we will [take appropriate action by filing charges against the perpetrators]," she sai.

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