IMPASUGONG, Bukidnon -- The 8th Infantry Battalion (8IB) of the 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, downplayed Wednesday, July 11, the claims of a progressive Indigenous Peoples (IP) organization that one of its troopers and associates are behind the killing of a tribal leader.
Lieutenant Colonel Ronald M. Illana, 8IB commander, said "the allegation of Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization is using the name of 8IB to defile the dignity and integrity of this unit."
On July 8, Kalumbay alleged that a member of the Cafgu and "paramilitary unit" called "Alamara," were behind the killing of Datu Mario Agsab, a chieftain of the Umayamnon tribe.
Agsab was killed in his residence in Sitio Mainaga, Barangay Iba, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon.
"The victim (Agsab) was a strong partner of our unit in attaining peace and this is just a propaganda of those people who want to destroy us," Illana said.
The 8IB denounced the accusations as baseless and malicious since, both personalities mentioned by Kalumbay were not suspects based on police records of the investigations.
"Late Datu Agsab was known and respected Lumad leader who always engages with 8IB in all activities for peace and development. In fact he was the one who facilitated the mass surrender of 118 NPA (New People's Army) members and supporters," the 8IB's statement read.
"He was known for his strong belief and resistance against the NPA-Terrorists group," it added.
Recently, the government launched Convergence Areas for Peace and Development (Capdev) in Barangay Iba, Cabanglasan where all agencies poured their million projects and services and hundred residents benefited in the program. Agsab was one of the beneficiary of the Capdev launching.
Staff Sergeant Edmundo Galladora, Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) commander in the area, ensures the completeness of his personnel.
"Nakaduty lahat ng CAA's natin nung araw at oras na sinasabing nangyari ang krimen (All Cafgu members were on duty when the crime happened)," he said.
"We are currently conducting a separate investigation to ensure that justice will prevail and we will inform the public on the result soon," he added.
In a separate report, Northern Mindanao Police Director Brigadier General Rafael Santiago Jr. condemned the violent acts perpetrated by motorcycle-riding criminals who killed Agsab.
Initial police reports stated the victim sustained gunshot wounds on his head and body.
Authorities recovered a motorcycle, six fired cartridge cases of caliber 45 pistol, two slug, a cellphone and P51,000 cash.
Investigators are still looking into the motive of the killing.
Santiago, as reported earlier, directed the police to intensify the conduct of police operations in the area in support of the ongoing investigation so justice is served to the victim and his family.
"I have ordered the provincial director of Bukidnon to assist the chief of police of Cabanglasan town in investigation for the immediate resolution of the incident. I extend my condolences to the bereaved family," Santiago said.
In response to the order of the region's top cop, adjacent police stations are intensifying its police operations and strengthening its checkpoint in every border in their respective jurisdiction.