Surigao Sur IPs hit NPA over death of militiamen

BUTUAN CITY – The Manobo tribe in the Surigao del Sur town of San Miguel on Friday condemned the death of two unarmed militiamen who were killed by communist rebels on Thursday.

Datu Rico Maca, the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of the San Miguel municipal council, said they are mourning the deaths of Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) members Aldren Azarcon and Dennis Ortega.

Maca said Azarcon and Ortega, who were his cousins, were fetching water and taking a bath around 300 meters away from their patrol base in Brgy. Calatngan when waylaid by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

“We are enraged. They were unarmed, outnumbered, and helpless when strafed and killed by the NPA,” Maca told Philippine News Agency.

Both CAFGU members were single and residents of the area, he said.

Maca said he was among those who first arrived at the ambush site.

“I was in tears when I saw my tribesmen lifeless,” he added.

“It was Ortega who was hit first by the volume of the firing of the guns. He was hit in the head, fell to the ground lifeless. His cousin, Azarcon was hit in the arms and thigh. But Azarcon still managed to crawl toward his cousin and hugged him. He died hugging his cousin,” Maca narrated.

The killing of Ortega and Azarcon was meant to sow fear among the Manobo tribe, he added.

“The NPA used to control the area of Calatngan. Lately, the Manobos realized that they were just deceived by the NPA,” he said.

The NPA in the area, Maca said, has become desperate after losing the support of the Manobo communities which the communist rebel movement used as their mass base before.

“The NPA claimed Ortega and Azarcon were their former members, surrendered to the Army and turned into CAFGU. That’s a big lie. They were never part of the NPA organization before,” he added.

Maca said the Manobos of San Miguel are furious over the killing.

“The parents and other family members of Ortega and Azarcon were grieving last night when their dead bodies were brought home. But aside from grieving, the Manobos are also angry. They asked why the NPA killed them without giving them the chance to defend themselves. They are really angry,” he added.

Maca said they will introduce a resolution in next Tuesday’s regular session of the Sangguniang Bayan of San Miguel to condemn the killing of the two Manobo tribe members.

In a statement on Thursday, 1st Lt. Jonald Romorosa, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion, said the killing of Ortega and Azarcon violated the provisions of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

Romorosa said the NPA failed to distinguish between the armed and unarmed auxiliary members of the Army.

“When the CAFGUs were waylaid and mercilessly killed by the NPA, they were in civilian clothes and unarmed,” Romorosa said.  Alexander Lopez /PNA –