Tribal leader, son killed by suspected NPA rebels

DAVAO CITY – A tribal leader of the Langilang-Manobo tribe and his son were shot dead by armed men inside their home in Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao del Norte on Sunday dawn.

The victims, Datu Banadjao Mampaundag and his son, Jhonard Mampaundag, were attacked around 4 a.m. inside their home by the armed men posing as soldiers but were believed members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

AFP Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) spokesperson Maj. Ezra Balagtey said the attackers were Tagalog-speaking members of the NPA who entered the house of the Mampaundags and murdered the two tribal leaders.

Balagtey said a medical team from Talaingod was sent to give assistance but they stopped when the team heard an explosion.

The remains of Banadjao and Jhonard are still in Sitio Igang waiting to be retrieved.

The NPA members were believed to be in an ambush position and could possibly attack army troops who would respond to the incident.

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 in Davao City at the Green Height convention Center on January 31 and February 1.

Banadjao was one of the participants of the gathering at the EastMinCom headquarters in Panacan, Davao City where President Rodrigo Duterte called on tribal leaders from four regions in Mindanao to “dissociate from the NPA.”

“Distansya mo as NPA. Ayaw mo pakig away (You distance yourselves from the NPA. Do not fight them,” he had told them.

The two-day IP Leaders Summit was aimed at providing the “lumads” with an avenue to air their concerns to the national government.

Two of the issues included security and lack of economic opportunities.

Banadjao was also one of those who signed a manifesto calling for a push on their struggle and fight for self-determination based on their customary laws, cultures and traditions passed by their ancestors that are deeply rooted in their communities.

In the manifesto, they vowed not to fail Duterte in his peace and development program spelled-out in the administration’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda.