DAVAO CITY (BicolToday.com) – Known as harsh on drug traffickers and pushers, President Duterte must also exercise his authority to disband abusive paramilitary units in Mindanao and must nail down the perpetrators to face justice after reports from Bukidnon came in that a tribal paramilitary unit with AFP soldiers allegedly mowed down with guns a crowd attending a wedding ceremony, killing a pregnant woman, wounding 5 children and 2 farmers.
“We dare the Duterte government to arrest “paramilitary butchers” Alde ‘Butsoy’ Salusad and his father, Benjamin and serve their warrants. In fact, all the named perpetrators in the killings of Lumad and peasant activists should immediately be arrested,” Karapatan and other progressive organizations called for the President’s attention last week, over the AFP’s continuing attacks against civilians through Oplan Bayanihan.
Salusad, leader of the paramilitary group New Indigenous People’s Army for Reform (NIPAR), allegedly led his group and the 8th Infantry Battalion-PA on a shooting spree last July 30 in Sitio Tibuwagan, Barangay Kawayan, San Fernando, Bukidnon, and killed a six-month pregnant woman and wounded five children and two farmers.
“This incident, which occurred after the unilateral ceasefire declaration of the GPH last July, led to the evacuation of 428 families from three barangays”, said Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of Karapatan.
For months, Salusad has been threatening to punish the community to force indigenous people’s leader Datu Jeffry “Jimboy” Mandagit to surrender. Datu Jimboy Mandagit is the chairman of Kaogalingong Sistema Igpapasindog tu Lumadnong Ogpaan (KASILO) and the Tribal Datu of Sitio Tibugawan.
Datu Mandagit was among the leaders who accompanied the Tigwahanon families that evacuated to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)-Haran in Davao City a year ago due to intensive military operations in their communities.
“The AFP has created monsters like Alde Salusad by arming and supporting his group. NIPAR has been alongside the 8th IB conducting combat operations in civilian communities,” Palabay said.
“In 2012, Salusad (allegedly) also killed Datu Jimmy Liguyon, a barangay chairperson who firmly opposed the entry of destructive mining in his barangay,” Palabay said.
NIPAR openly admitted to the killing of Liguyon, in a statement read over the dxDB, a local radio station.
Salusad was also reported to be (allegedly) involved in the killing of Abundio Mantugohon (January 11, 2012), Datu Erning Mantugohon (October 10, 2012), Mabini “Toto” Manobia and Zaldy Ambayot (October 17, 2013).
“Benjamin, father of Alde, is a regular member of the 8th and 68th IB. Both (allegedly) have a standing warrant of arrest for the murder of Liguyon. Both are scot-free and enjoy military protection while they continue terrorizing communities,” Palabay said.
“Instead of defending the Alamara and the AFP for continuing military operations, Duterte should disband at least the 25 known paramilitary groups under the AFP command and pull out the soldiers from the communities, ceasefire or no ceasefire,” Palabay concluded. [BicolToday.com]