A MANDAYA leader who led his people to get the first ever certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT) was killed in a grenade attack along with his brother and nephew just outside the his house in Poblacion village, Davao Oriental at near midnight of December 30, 2016, a belated report reaching SunStar showed.

Killed were Likid Copertino Mabayanban Banugan, 53, his brother Ramon, 44, and nephew Benny by some 30 armed men just outside the victims' house.

The armed men forced the victims to go out of the house before spraying them with high-powered firearms and a grenade.

The Provincial Police Office of Davao Oriental has already formed the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) to further investigate the killing, which many speculate was the handiwork of the New People's Army (NPA) that has long been threatening to kill Likid Banugan because he does not allow the rebel forces to enter the CADT in Barangay Pichon, Caraga.

The SITG is headed by Davao Oriental Provincial Police Office director Senior Superintendent Harry Espela.

Senior Inspector Al Anthony Gumban, chief of police in Caraga Municipal Police Station, said they heard the gunshots and rushed to the area.

"Pag-responde namo, gibilin nalang namo ang patrol car sa kalsada sa Sobrecarey Street, kay dili naman nikasulod kay gibabagan og mga sinunog nga ligid ug mga spikes, ug pagkakita nila sa amoa, mi-withdraw dayon sila sakay sa duhaka van padung sa area sa Manay (We were forced to leave our vehicles along Sobrecarey Street because the road was blocked with burning fires and spikes scattered around. When the armed men saw us coming, they fled on board two vans toward the direction of Manay)," Gumban said in a telephone interview.

Likid Banugan was still brought to the Manay District Hospital, but he was declared dead by the attending physician while his two relatives died on the spot.

The police still do not have suspects, although top on their heads is the NPA because Banugan has also been accused of informing authorities about rebel activities in their hinterland barangay an hour and a half away uphill on rough road from the highway in Caraga.

Likid Banugan headed the establishment of the Calapagan Mandaya Tribal Council where one of its policies was to declare the CADT-01 as a peace zone where rebels are not allowed to enter.

Furthermore, the NPA was siding with a particular family whom the tribal council ruled against in a land dispute with a clan also within the CADT-01.

Banugan was also always at the forefront for giving support to government programs in their area.

"The tribal council detests the meddling of the NPA in the affairs of the IP especially the decisions of the tribal council and its elders and made a strong statement against such actions of the NPA," said Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, spokesperson of Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Recovered from the crime scene were a magazine of a KG9 machine pistol with three live 9mm bullets, three M203 Grenades, five 5.56mm bullets of an M16 rifle, and three shells of an M203.

No one has claimed responsibility yet over the incident.