DAVAO CITY—A tribal leader of the Ata-Manobo tribe in Talaingod, Davao del Norte declared a “pangayaw” against the New People’s Army (NPA), particularly the 30 lumads who allied with the communist group.
Datu Lumansad Sibogan, the presiding officer of the Council of Elders of the Ata-Manobo Tribe in Talaingod, said it is high time to stop their own tribal members who follow the path of the NPA to the point of killing their own relatives.
Sibogan said “pangayaw” is a cultural practice or self-governance of the tribes to exact justice for the killings in the community that not even the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), police or military can stop.
“Pangayaw” has been defined as a ritual performed by a warrior chief prior to waging a prestige killing.
“Magdeklara mi ug pangayao sa ila, kay mas naminaw sila sa mga tao sa pikas kaysa amo nga ilang paryente (We will declare a pangayaw against them because they listen more the other side (NPA) than their relatives),” Sibogan said.
Sibogan, who is from JBL, Barangay Sto. Nino, Talaingod, has also been receiving threats from the NPA.
In fact, he said he already received two letters threatening to peel him. “Panitan kuno ko nila. Unsang panitan nga dili man ko kamote (They said they will peel me. How can they peel me I am not a sweet potato),” Sibogan said in jest during Tuesday’s AFP-PNP press corps briefing at the Royal Mandaya Hotel.
Sibogan admitted tribal leaders are divided.
There are 60 tribal leaders in Talaingod and 30 of them are members of the Office of the Tribal Council supported by the government while the other 30 leaders are members of the Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon (Unity to Defend the Land) which reportedly promotes the objectives of the NPA.
Sibogan expressed disgust over the killing of the Langilang-Manobo tribal leader Datu Banadjao Mampaundag and his son, Jhonard Mampaundag by armed men believed to be members of the NPA, inside their home in Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao del Norte on Sunday dawn.
The incident happened a day after Banadjao came home from the two-day “Panagtagbo Alang sa Kalinaw ug Kalambuan,” an Indigenous Peoples Leaders’ Summit held at the Green Height Convention Center in Davao City on January 31 and February 1.
Sibogan alleged that Banadjao and Jhonard, who was later learned to be a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu), were murdered by a certain Rommel Gabo.
He said Rommel is his nephew, adding that their members of the community no longer respect own relatives.
Sibogan said all of them are affected by the killing of Banadjao.
Emmanuel Caccal, provincial head of the NCIP– Davao del Norte, said “pangayaw” is part of the lumads’ culture.
He said NCIP can only ask the lumads not to launch a “pangayaw” because it means death to anyone they meet. NCIP is also saddened by the killing of Banadjao and his son.
When he met Banadjao a few days before he was killed, Caccal said he noticed sadness in the datu’s face. When asked if there was something that worried him to which Banadjao only answered none.
According to Caccal, his team was scheduled to visit So Igang but “I was told by Datu Banadjao not to go there because it is dangerous.
Caccal is hoping the killing of Banadjao and Jhonard would be the last. He said the lumads only wanted to live simple and peacefully.
“Nasubo mi sa panghitabo (We are saddened by the incident,),” Caccal said as he vowed that NCIP will work towards solving the incident peacefully.
Meanwhile, the Chief of the Davao del Norte Provincial Police Office, Chief Inspector Werenfredo Regidor, said he respects the cultural practice of the lumads to launch a pangayaw.
He, however, assured that the police will do its best to protect lives and preserve peace in the IP communities.
Capt. Edson Abello, Civil Military officer of the Army’s 1001st Brigade, said troops have been deployed in So Igang to secure the community and that a military detachment has already been put up in the area.
PRO 11 spokesperson, Chief Insp. Andrea dela Cerna, said there was a clear human rights violation by NPA members for the killing of the Mampaundags.
“We will be calling the attention of the United Nations to look into this matter because it’s a clear violation of international human rights also,” she said.
Dela Cerna said the rebels did not just attack the victims but also the responding ambulance which was ambushed using an improvised explosive device (IED).
“What we see here is, even our civilians and even the driver of the ambulance were also put in danger during that time,” she said.
Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesperson of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the troops are ready to protect the people. He said the situation will be monitored to prevent escalation of the conflict.
Murder cases ready
Regidor said two counts of murder will be filed against the identified perpetrators. He said witnesses saw 12 armed men attacked the Mampaundags’ home.
Of the 12, nine have been identified and were confirmed members of the NPA.
He said the police will file the cases after the victims’ burial as requested by the wives of Banadjao and Jhonard. PNA-northboundasia.com