DAVAO CITY – The Army’s 10th Infantry Division said the 15-year old Manobo student who was killed on Sunday was a victim of a retaliatory attack against the New People’s Army.
On Sunday, child rights group, Save Our Schools Network reported that a member of the paramilitary group, Alamara, allegedly killed a Grade 3 Manobo student in Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
Rius Valle, spokesperson of SOS Network said Alibando Tingkas was a student of Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Learning Center Inc. in Sitio Pongpong in Barangay Palma Gil.
The victim was on his way home to Sitio Bayabas, along with two other companions, when a member of the Alamara shot at them.
But the Army, in a statement Tuesday said the victim was killed in a retaliatory attack after the NPA allegedly killed a lumad farmer on Sunday morning.
The Army said the NPA belonged to Guerrilla Front 55.
“NPAs belonging to Guerrilla Front 55 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) killed a lumad farmer around 8:00 in the morning of January 17, 2016 which reportedly triggered a retaliatory attack that led to the killing of an alleged 15-year old student of Salugpungan school in Talaingod, Davao del Norte in the afternoon of the same day,” the Army said.
The lumad farmer was identified as Donato Salangani.
“Reports reaching the headquarters of 10ID revealed that Donato was harvesting abaca with his wife, daughters and other companions when he was shot to death by a group of NPAs at Sitio Sambulangan, Barangay Baugan,” the Army added.
The suspect in the killing of the student, who SOS identified as Joven Salangani, is reportedly a cousin of Donato.
“Donato, a father of six children, has reportedly earlier declared “Pangayaw against the NPAs” after learning that his daughter, Tessie, 18, died while in UCCP Compound in Haran but he never saw the remains of her daughter,” the Army said.
In a blotter of the incident at the Office of the Ata-Manobo Council of Elders of Talaingod, Colorot Salangani, the wife of Donato reported that their group was ambushed by NPAs using M4, AK-47 and M14 rifles at Sitio Sambulongan, Barangay Baugan. She identified the NPAs who ambushed them and killed her husband as Luib Daus alyas Bagani, Dalahis Manlulugpis alyas Carlos and Tudtud Ladahay.
The Ata-Manobo Council of Elders of Talaingod, in their resolution number 2, series of 2016, also said that Donato was allegedly killed by the NPA while Tingkas was reportedly killed by Joven Salangani.
The council of elders resolved to call the two sides to the office of the tribal elders to settle the killings through their tribal justice system.
Datu Lumansad Sibogan, grandfather of Tingkas, said a certain Commander Jose of NPA’s Front 55 ordered, a Lumad NPA named “Luib” to kill Donato because he (Donato) does not want to support the programs of the NPA.
He said the child was caught in a “pangayaw” or tribal war.
Army commander Major General Rafael Valencia also said that his command “has not organized, armed and funded any paramilitary group.”
“The 10ID is made up of regular soldiers and CAFGU Active Auxiliaries (CAAs) which are organized and operate in accordance with the law. These soldiers and CAAs where nowhere near the site where both alleged killings transpired,” said Valencia.
Col. Ricardo Nepomuceno, commander of the 1003rd Brigade based in Davao del Norte said they have not received reports regarding the death of Tingkas, but only that of Donato Salangani.
In a press conference here Wednesday, Nepomuceno said when he asked Datu Sibogan, why a child was killed, the leader said “he is just collateral damage nung tribal war (of the tribal war).”
“Si Donato kasi was killed or murdered by the NPA coming from the other tribe. So, gumanti lang itong mga kasama ni Donato. And unfortunately ang first nong nakita nila is yong bata (Donato was killed or murdered by the NPA coming from the other tribe. So Donato’s group retaliated. And unfortunately they saw the child),” he said.
Meanwhile, Valle said the military is only using tribal conflicts as an “alibi” to veer away from the real cause of the death of the student which is the occupation of military in the communities.
“They also said that the school director of Alcadev in Surigao del Sur Emerito Samarca and the two tribal leaders, Datu Bello Sinzo and Dionel Campos were victims of “pangayaw” by the Magahat Bagani,” he said, citing the killing incident in Lianga town on September 1 last year.
“Whatever name they call them, Alamara, Magahat, Cafgu — it is the Army who supports these groups to run after suspected NPA supporters in the community under their counter-insurgency plan,” he said.
He said prior to a “pangayaw” declaration, the Salugpungan school has already filed a blotter on November 26, 2015 at the Talaingod Municipal Police office for “consummated multiple grave threats” issued by paramilitary group members against teachers and students.
“They threatened to kill the teachers and students,” said Valle. (With a report from Ace R. Morandante/davaotoday.com)