NPA justifies execution of Manobo chieftain, ex-rebel in Surigao Sur

The latest to fall to the NPA’s form of justice were Datu Bernandino Astudillo and Zaldy Ibañez, both hacked to death on March 19 in San Miguel town in Surigao del Sur. PHOTO/Rico Maca  

Communist rebels owned up to the deaths of a Manobo chieftain and a former rebel, whom they abducted in a remote village in San Miguel town, Surigao del Sur on Thursday last week.

Ka Sandara Sidlakan, spokesperson for the New People’s Army Front 30 in Northeastern Mindanao, said the execution of Datu Bernandino Astudillo,73, chieftain of the Manobo tribe in Magroyong, an upland community in San Miguel and Zaldy Ibañez, 52, a former NPA rebel was justified.

The rebel leader accused Astudillo of alleged landgrabbing and raping his two daughters and daughter-in law.

Sidlakan also said Ibañez had been implicated in several killings and also involved in banditry.

Ibañez surrendered to the government in November 2019.

“It was an imposition of revolutionary justice. Dili na naman sila makamahay kay taas naman nga panahon gihatag sa ila nga lugway,” she told a local radio.

On Thursday night, a band of NPA rebels simultaneously took at gunpoint Astudillo and Ibañez from their homes in Barangay Magroyong around 7:00 p.m.

A day later, they were found dead with multiple hack wounds.

Sidlakan also accused Astudillo and Ibañez of being military spies and both had actively supported operations that resulted in gruesome rights abuses against the lumad population.

The rebel group had repeatedly warned the slain lumad leader and their former comrade of their increasing anti-people and counter-revolutionary’activities but merely ignored these warnings, according to Sidlakan.

Lt. Colonel Jezreel Diagmel, commanding officer of the Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion, condemned the attack.

“We strongly condemn this barbaric act of the CNTs as they continue to destroy innocent civilians and Indigenous Peoples’ lives,” Diagmel said.

Diagmel said the military would continue to adhere to the government’s unilateral ceasefire declaration even as communist rebels had been taking advantage of it to stage their attacks.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has been tapped to assist in peacekeeping operations amid the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus.

The military vowed to file charges against the rebel group to exact justice for the tribesmen’s killing. CLC

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