Editorial: Condemning yet another tribal leader's death

THE New People's Army (NPA) has once again snuffed out the life of an indigenous peoples leader. Not contented, it also killed the tribal datu's son in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

We are pretty sure the NPA will come out with a statement soon tagging Datu Banadjao Mampaundag as having committed crimes against the people. That is just how they work. In the guise of protecting the downtrodden, they make sure that the downtrodden are deprived of leaders who can stand up for them and then in the process make those left behind cower and be subservient to the rebels.

That Talaingod is a stronghold of these rebels says a lot about Mampaundag's murder. He must have stood up for his people in the same way that Mandaya tribal chieftain Cupertino Banugan did in his lifetime. They're both dead now, both murdered by the NPA who goes around in the hinterlands making people believe they are the people's army.

What right do these rebels have to say who can lead an indigenous tribe? Who are they to dictate how the indigenous peoples should think? Rebel leaders are not of the land. They are those who chose to go to the mountains and fight it out. Why then should the indigenous peoples be their target for assassination? Who gave them the right to take over the role of the council of elders and other indigenous ways of meting out justice? Who are they to impose their thoughts on people who have thrived on their traditional wisdom and sense of fair play?

But for so many years, since losing their foothold on the labor sector, the communists have found a very fertile ground on indigenous peoples communities for that is where their promises of a better world can still be believed. Having suffered neglect for so long, promises of a better life is easier to peddle. But of course, that better life will never come and all that will happen are divisions in a tribe that once thrived because of their strong sense of community.

Now that the NPA has once again shed blood, this time of Datu Banadjao Mampaundag and his son Jhonard, we raise our voice in condemning this murder and all other murders that the rebels have committed especially on tribal leaders.

No amount of justification can ever make people believe that the datu and his son have committed the crimes the NPA is very fond of punishing as the rebels' attacks on the indigenous communities continue to wreak havoc and bring fear on hinterland residents whose only aspiration is to live in peace in their communities.
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