Army to persuade Lumads from waging war vs. NPA

MILITARY officers are now meeting tribal leaders to persuade them from declaring pangayao against the New People’s Army following the death of Loreto mayor and his son last Oct. 19.

“We are telling them about laws governing us and we should work with in the frame work of it,” said Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, commander of 10th Infantry Division. “We understand their feelings because Mayor Otaza is a very well-loved and respected leader but we keep on telling them to let the law take care of it.”

Last week, manobo tribal leaders have agreed to a meeting after the death of Mayor Dario Otaza and his son, Daryl.

Datu Nestor Apas of the langilan-manobo tribe in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, said the main agenda is to decide if they will declare a pangayao (roughly translated as tribal war) against the New People’s Army.

“We are really considering retaliation because of the series of killings against our leaders by the NPA,” he said in a phone interview.

“The rebel group has been causing trouble in our community,” he said. “We will arrest their NGO and their (mass base} inside our ancestral domain. We will speak to them in our tribal court.”

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10th Infantry Division Public Affairs head, said that they are extra careful about the violence spilling over to the communities.

“We do not tolerate that,” he said of the planned tribal war. “We will make sure that there won’t be any more killings.”

In a separate interview, Dulphing Ogan, secretary general of Kalumaran, said the move of Datu Apas will only result to more trouble.

“They should know that this is not a good thing to do because it will only serve to escalate conflict among the Lumads, Ogan said. “We are calling on the Lumads not to pursue such action but to settle for a peaceful negotiation to the conflict.”

NPA spokesperson Southern Mindanao Regional Command, Rigoberto Sanchez, said in a statement that they acted on the decision of the people’s court, and punished Mayor Dario Otaza and Daryl Otaza whom they accused of terrorizing the Lumads and peasants in the municipality.

“The revolutionary fighters and officers of the Comval North Davao South Agusan Subregional Command in joint operation with the NPA-Northern Mindanao Regional Operations Command, meted the maximum sentence of death penalty against the two last Oct. 19 in Butuan City,” the statement read.

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