Tribal leader claims he and son innocent of massacre raps

In a clandestine interview with MindaNews on Thursday, Datu Camid Lapindoy claimed he was at home when members of the Gonzaga family were killed in Islid, Barangay Dalagdag, Calinan District on April. 9.

Residents of Islid also call their village Bulanbulan.

Killed were Fernando Gonzaga, 45, a barangay tanod (village watchman); his wife, Fe, 35, a purok chief; and their children Richel, 15 and Ferdinand, 9. Calinan police said Ferdinand was six years old.

The massacre triggered the evacuation of the remaining seven families in the village Tuesday afternoon. The residents loaded food and personal belongings on carabao-drawn sleds and animals and fled to Dalagdag proper. 

Eight families had fled last month following the death of Lapindoy’s son Christopher reportedly in the hands of New People’s Army rebels.

On Tuesday, April 24, a case of multiple murder was filed against Lapindoy, his son Camilo and two others for allegedly conspiring in the massacre, newspaper reports quoted Chief Inspector Dionesio Abude, station commander of Calinan Police, to have said.

Lapindoy claimed the police have no evidence against him.

Teofila Perales, the 67-year-old mother of Fe, filed the complaint with the victims’ neighbors as witnesses.

Police said they have a witness who saw the "fully-armed" suspects passing by her house minutes after they heard gunshots.

Fe reportedly told the witness days before the massacre that if something happened to them, the Lapindoys would be likely responsible because of a personal feud between them.

The case was filed days after Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the massacre was not the handiwork of communist rebels under Leonardo Pitao or Kumander Parago, as earlier claimed by the military.

The rebels raided the armory of the Davao Prison and Penal Farm on Easter Sunday and reportedly withdrew near Dalagdag. The military said the massacre was a diversionary tactic of the NPA.

But neighbors said the victims had no enemies among the rebels.

Lapindoy also said he did not threaten villagers with reprisal following his son’s death. He said he is a resident of Paquibato district.

He denied organizing an armed group called Alamara or a private army to sow fear among non-Lumad residents of the barangay.

He said he could not afford to buy and maintain guns such as those used in the massacre.

The tribal leader claimed that the Gonzagas and their neighbors in Islid were not involved in a land dispute between his clan and some residents who had left the village more than 10 years ago.

He said there was no conflict between Lumads or non-Lumads. He explained they are merely reclaiming lands which his family owned but were taken over by some residents who deserted the village when conflicts erupted. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)