MANILA, Philippines — Communist rebels in southern Mindanao admitted killing a lumad leader and his son in Talaingod, Davao del Norte early this month, saying they were militia recruiters who were the subjects of a “standing order” to punish them for alleged “landgrabbing, theft and extortion,” among other abuses.
In a statement, the New People’s Army Southern Mindanao Region Operational Command said Bandjao Mampaundag “was no hero or a benevolent tribal leader of Talaingod but a longtime Cafgu (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit member) and rabid recruiter of the notorious Alamara paramilitary forces under the payroll of the 10th Infantry Division-AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines).”
“Weighing on the grave abuses and injustice masterminded and implemented by the Mampaundags in Talaingod, the NPA has meted the revolutionary justice that the masses have long sought for,” the rebel statement said.
Mampaundag, an Ata-Manobo who was among the indigenous people who attended a government-organized forum in Davao City that was addressed by President Rodrigo Duterte, and his son Jhonard, who the rebels said was also a Cafgu member, were killed in their home in Sitio Igang, Barangay Palma Gil on February 4.
The military said rebels dressed up as soldiers barged into Mampaundag’s home and shot him and his son dead then set off a bomb to dissuade an ambulance from bringing them to a hospital.
But the NPA said “the two were armed and attempted to open fire against the Red fighters.”
A .45 caliber pistol and a shotgun were seized from them, the rebels added.
The rebels said Mampaundag even ignored “appeals from his relatives and civilians in the community,” building a detachment and organizing Alamara, a paramilitary force that has long been accused by lumad communities of atrocities, and was also active in “intelligence gathering” for the military.
Villages who refused to join the militia were allegedly “ordered to leave their homes and farms.”
He was also accused of extortion and profiting from the sale of his tribe’s ancestral land to customers he handed “dubious land titles.”
“NPA fighters have repeatedly issued warning to Mampaundag and his son Jhonard, to desist from engaging in criminal activities and in the counterrevolutionary operations. In several occasions, Red fighters patiently explained to Mampaundag the perils of military detachment building amid the civilian populace, the conscription of Lumad for paramilitary work, and the dangers in abetting enemy’s search and combat operations,” the rebels said.