TWO lumad leaders, suspected to be supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, were killed in two separate shooting incidents in Bukidnon.
The non-government organization Higala sa Lumad Network identified the victim of the February 4 shooting incident as Matanem Lorendo Pocuan, a lumad leader of the Umayamnon tribe in Bukidnon, who was shot in Sitio Tapayanon, Mangaod village, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon.
According to Higala's report, Pocuan went out from his house to get a pig from his neighbor, Datu Maggelan.
But while inside his neighbor’s house, Pocuan was shot by Oba Ilocan, who, the Higala Network said, was an identified member of the paramilitary group Alamara in the area.
The group said Ilocan allegedly used a rifle in shooting Pocuan at a short range which caused Pocuan to die on the spot.
Pocuan, was a respected elder of the Umayam people in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon.
The Higala sa Lumad Network said the Alamara group has been recruiting members of the community of Pocuan since 2010.
“However, Matanem Pocuan relentlessly refused the invitation as he saw no benefit arising from such affiliation, and instead saw that the paramilitary group would only cause division on his tribe,” the organization said.
It added Pocuan has been tagged by the Alamara group as a supporter of the NPA rebels, accusing him that it was the rebel group who introduced the agricultural products in the community, a claim which Pocuan denied.
On Friday, February 3, Anglao was also fatally shot by three unidentified gunmen.
Anglao was an active member of the Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (Tindoga), an indigenous peoples' organization of the Manobo-Pulangion in Botong village, Quezon, Bukidnon, which opposes plantation expansions.
Anglao was aboard his motorcycle on his way back home with his wife and child, after buying school supplies at the town center when three unidentified gunmen drove to their side and shot Anglao thrice - two at his head and another at his chest.
The members of Tindoga were also previously accused of supporting the NPA.
According to Higala sa Lumad, this is the second death of a lumad leader recorded since the unilateral ceasefire was ended by both the government and the rebels.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan spokesperson in Northern Mindanao Wildon Barros said the two incidents are what his group fears.
Barros said impunity is creeping up again in the mountains with the termination of peace talks.
He said anytime now, paramilitary groups, which he said, are controlled by the army, are expected to attack innocent lumads who they suspect to be members of the NPA.
Barros called on for the resumption of peace talks to allow peace rule in the lumad communities again.
Youth group Kabataan Partylist Northern Mindanao Coordinator Vennel Chenfoo said if peace talks are not resumed, killings will continue.
Chenfoo said it is disheartening that what these groups target are those who fight within the bounds of law.
“Gapakita kini nga mi-gara na ang military ug ila mga paramilitaries tungod sa declaration nga all-out war. Ang problema ang ila gina-patay, ginadakop ug gina-torture ang katawhan nga nakigbisog within the bounds of law. Dili ang katong mga gabitbit og armas (It shows that the military and their paramilitaries are taking advantage of the declaration of the all-out war. The problem is that they kill, capture, and torture those who are struggling within the bounds of the law. Not those who were carrying weapons),” he said.
Chefoo said they call for an all-out peace and not all-out war and asked for the peace talks to continue and solve the root of the problem.