A LEADER of the Manobo tribe and two companions were killed in an ambush staged by suspected New People’s Army rebels in Lianga town in Surigao del Sur on Sunday.
The Army’s 3rd Special Forces Battalion named the slain tribal leader as Hawudon Jumar Bucales, the Indigenous People’s (IPs) mandatory representative in the Lianga town council.
Killed with Bucales were Alberto dela Peña and Artemio Mulde, also of the Manobo tribe.
1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, the battalion’s civil military operations officer, said the three, aboard two motorcycles, just came from an IP council meeting in Barangay San Isidro when they were attacked by the rebels at around 1:30 p.m. in Sitio Mamprasanon in Barangay Banahao.
Citing initial investigation, Punsalan said the attackers are from the NPA’s Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee.
Punsalan said Bucales, a former NPA rebel, is a “very staunch critic” of the communist movement.
“He is among those condemning the communist NPA terrorists in the IP community. He was an NPA who returned to the government fold so he knows the NPA exploitation of the IPs and he has prevented NPA recruitment,” he said.
Punsalan said Bucales had passed resolutions that sought the closure of communist-linked IP schools, which he said have been the serving as the breeding ground for NPA recruits.
“He wants these schools replaced by DepEd (Department of Education) accredited schools to prevent the recruitment and give the children the proper education,” said Punsalan.
He said Bucales also introduced resolutions for the construction of farm-to-market roads so IP communities will be accessible and IP products will easily be transported.
Punsalan said military pursuit operations are ongoing.
Datu Constancio Duhac, Lianga’s tribal chieftain, condemned the killing and denounced the NPA and its allies.