NPAs execute tribal leader–military

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/ 27 July)– Communist guerillas allegedly tortured and then killed a lumad leader in a remote village in Arakan town in North Cotabato at around 6 a.m. today, a military official said.

1Lt. Tony Bulao, chief of the civil-military operations of the Army’s 602nd Brigade based in Carmen town, identified the victim as Datu Libontos Ansabu,

Bulao said the victim was inside his house when some 100 fully armed members of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) arrived in the area at around 2 a.m. Friday.

When the rebels confirmed the presence of Ansabu in the area, they went straight to the victim’s house and tortured him in front of his children, according to Bulao.

“After he was tortured, he was dragged outside his home where he was shot many times in the head and the different parts of the body, in front of his children and neighbors,” said Bulao.

Ansabu is also known in his tribal village as “Commander Ibon,” who was reportedly active in the revolutionary movement for 30 years.

“In the late 1990s, he realized there was no future in the rebel movement so he yielded to the government and started helping authorities in peace and development initiatives in his area,” said Bulao.

Police investigations revealed the victim was executed because of his alleged connections with the Bagani, a group of armed natives allegedly being used by the Army in its counter-insurgency campaign in the hinterlands of North Cotabato, especially in areas believed influenced by communist guerillas.

The killing of Ansabu came a week after the Army and Police’s Special Action Forces overran one of the biggest rebel camps in nearby Magpet town after they conducted combat patrol operations.

The fighting resulted to a number of deaths and injuries from the rebel side, the Army claimed.

The rebel camp now under the control of the Army and SAF is located at Sitio Bantaan, Barangay Bagumbayan in Magpet, which is just a few kilometers away from Barangay Ganatan in Arakan, Ansabu’s hometown.

Also in Magpet town, a farmer identified as Ricardo Lasconia, 40, of Barangay Kauswagan, was shot thrice on his neck at around 830 p.m. on Thursday.

Reports from the Magpet police said Lasconia was on his way home when he was waylaid along the road.

Authorities have yet to determine if the killing of Ansabu in Arakan town and the shooting incident in nearby Magpet town are related. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)