Bagani vs Reds

Tribal warriors subdue rebels, confiscate arms

LUMADS in the hinterland of Davao del Norte are now resisting communist rebels as their tribal warriors, locally known as bagani, reportedly disarmed a commander and three guerillas of the New People’s Army (NPA) who entered their community in Sitio Mangkay, Barangay Gupitan in Kapalong on Friday afternoon.

Overwhelmed by the unity of the tribal community against the NPA, Major Ezra Balagtey, the spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), said the lumads are apparently fed up of the deception and coercion by the NPA prompting them to disarm the armed group.

Balagtey said Renard Catarata alias Ka SM/Tata/Ariel, said to be the commander of the NPA operating in the area, was among the disarmed NPA guerillas. The three others disarmed were just identified as Ka Yumi, Ka Kid, and Ka Alex.

The four NPA guerillas were able to escape but the tribal warriors confiscated five high-powered firearms (three M16 rifles, one M4 carbine and one Colt M653).

The tribal community turned over the firearms to Sgt. Henry Himtog of Kapatagan Detachment in Sitio Kapatagan, Barangay Gupitan on Saturday evening.

The community also endorsed 17 of its warriors who previously with the Militia ng Bayan, a group of NPA supporters. Some of the 17 warriors were among those who disarmed the four NPA rebels.

A regular NPA member who gave up was also endorsed. He was identified as Ka Don.

The surrenderers told soldiers that they decided to surrender because of President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncements to give P20,000 for every slain NPA member.

Lt. Col. Gilbert Ombos, commander of 60th Infantry Battalion, expressed his appreciation on the effort of the Lumad community to stop violence and coercion by the NPA against their members.

Ombos reiterated the willingness of the unit to assist NPAs who are willing to return to the folds of the law.

“For those who will insist to continue using violence to instill fear to the community, (you) cannot forever run away from the long arm of the law,” Ombos said.