DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 February) – Five alleged members of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA), including a volunteer teacher for Lumads, were killed in an encounter in Davao de Oro on Thursday morning, the military said.
In an information released Friday, Captain Mark Anthony S. Tito, chief of the Division Public Affairs Office of the 10th Infantry Division identified three of the fatalities as Jojarain Alce Nguho II alias Rain, Chad Booc alias Chad, and a certain alias Daday. The two others were still unidentified.
The encounter happened in Purok-8, Barangay Andap, New Bataan, Davao de Oro.
After the 15-minute encounter, soldiers recovered one M653 rifle, one caliber .45 pistol, one hand grenade, one anti-personnel mine, assorted food supplies, and personal belongings, the 10ID said.
Booc was among the “Bakwit 7” arrested by police in Cebu on Feb. 15, 2021 for alleged kidnapping and trafficking of Lumad minors from Talaingod, Davao del Norte to a bakwit school at the Talamban Campus of University of San Carlos in Cebu City.
The court eventually dismissed the charges against him and his six co-accused and ordered their release from police custody.
Tito said Booc, who graduated cum laude from University of the Philippines-Diliman with a degree of Bachelor of Computer Science, was a known activist and “recruiter” of the NPA back in college.
He volunteered as a mathematics teacher at the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural Development (ALCADEV) in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, and also became a volunteer teacher at the bakwit school in Cebu after the closure of the Salugpongan schools in Davao Region, he said.
Booc involved in the Manilakbayan, a protest march allegedly organized by communist guerillas involving Lumads from Mindanao in 2015, Tito added.
Meanwhile, Tito said Nguho graduated from Liceo de Tagum as “a scholar of the communists,” and volunteered as a teacher at Community Technical College of Southern Mindanao (CTCSM) in Barangay Lapu-Lapu, Maco, Davao de Oro.
BGen Jesus P. Durante III, commander of the 1001st Brigade said Booc’s death proved that the so-called Lumad schools like ALCADEV, Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc., Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center Salugpongan, and CTCSM “are indeed breeding grounds” of the communist guerillas.
He alleged that Lumad children are being radicalized to take up arms against the government through these schools.
“We call on the parents whose children are still with these institutions to take action. Rescue your children immediately before it’s too late. Seek help from the authorities so that we can eventually rescue them,” he added.
In a statement Friday, the Communist Party of the Philippines, citing Tweets by Marco Valbuena, its chief information officer, denied that Booc and the other fatalities were killed in an encounter.
“There was no encounter in New Bataan, Davao de Oro, yesterday, where the AFP claims it killed activist Chad Booc and four others. This was confirmed to us by the local NPA unit in the area. The AFP’s ‘encounter’ claim is an outright lie. This would not be the first time.
“Indeed, the AFP’s ‘killed in an encounter’ storyline has repeatedly been used in the past to cover up the cold-blooded murder of civilians or unarmed people. We urge their family and friends to uncover the facts surrounding their deaths and demand justice for their murders,” the statement said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)