PNP probes 17 NPA atrocities vs. Mindanao IPs

From sexual abuse of Salugpungan students to the murder of tribal leaders, a team of lawyers and investigators from the Philippine National Police (PNP) are digging deeper into the alleged atrocities committed by the New People’s Army (NPA) against the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) of Mindanao.

Supt. Louie Padillo of the Davao del Norte Provincial Police Office (DNPPO) on Friday said the team is in the process of collating all affidavits of the tribal leaders and victims in the alleged 17 atrocities committed by the rebel group.

Padillo, who is one of the DNPPO lawyers, said the police already has a detailed list of the 17 atrocities.

Senior Supt. Harry Espela, chief of the Regional Investigation Division, said they are gathering more pieces of evidence to back up the statements of the tribal leaders and former students of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon or the Salugpungan Community Learning Center (SCLC).

The 17 atrocities include the June 25, 1989 massacre in the village of Rano, Barangay Binaton, Digos, Davao del Sur, where 39 churchgoers were massacred by armed men believed to members of the NPA.

The tribal leaders also cited the murder of Talaingod mayor Jose Libayao in September 2001, and the killings of many other members of the cultural communities from 1983 to 2017.

Records obtained from the Police Regional Office in Region 11 (Davao Region) showed there are already more than 300 IPs reported killed by the NPA from 1983 to 2007 — most of them from Region 11 (114 killed) and Region 13 or Caraga Region, 110.

From 2012 to 2017, the recorded killings reached 87, PRO-11 records show.

Investigators are also looking into the possibility of filing charges against some members of the NPA who abused Salugpungan students.

During the press conference on Friday at the Davao City Police Office, Datu Asenad Bago and Datu Manuel Salangani both claimed they were sexually abused when they were with the NPA.

The other atrocities that were listed by the tribal leaders are: supplanting traditional leaders and replacing them with the members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF), the political arm of the NPA; making the ancestral domain as NPA’s guerrilla base; collecting revolutionary taxes; setting up informal schools and using them to radicalize IP children; deceiving and agitating IP leaders to go on “Bakwits” from their ancestral domain to the town centers and cities like in Haran in Davao City, and among others.

Datu Joel Dahusay, a Matig Talomo Manobo, said the lives of the IPs under the NPA was “very difficult.”

Dahusay, one of the Salugpungan teachers, had left the struggle after realizing the teachings of NPA were to deceive people.

He said he stopped teaching because the classes were oriented towards radicalizing the children to be communist rebels. (Lilian C Mellejor/PNA)