DAVAO CITY – Relatives of the victims of the alleged “massacre” in Paradise Embac, Paquibato District here trooped to the City Council on Tuesday calling for justice for their slain family members.
The victims’ relatives requested assistance from the city’s Committee on Human Rights, chaired by Councilor Karlo Bello who delivered a privileged speech on the matter.
On Sunday midnight, three civilians, two of whom are community leaders, died after an attack by the Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion at the residence of peasant leader, Aida Seisa. The Army said the victims were members of the New People’s Army.
The relatives belied the Army’s accusations and said their relatives are civilians.
Josefina Enlog, wife of Sitio Manipis tribal leader Datu Ruben Enlog, said her husband was an ordinary farmer.
Enlog said on the day of the incident, she and her husband went to sell woods (kahoy pangsugnod) for their living.
“Pagkagabii alas dyes, nananghid siya sa akoa nga motambong og birthday sa anak ni Aida Seisa mao tong ako siyang gitugotan nga moadto sa birthday. Pag-abot sa alas dose mao nalay among nabatian nga adunay kusog kaayong buto sa armas so didto mitumaw ang akong kabalaka nga basin naapil og kamatay ang akong bana (At 10 pm, he asked permission that he will attend the birthday of Aida Seisa’s daughter and I said okay. At 12 midnight we heard gunfires and I was worried that my husband could be dead),” Mrs. Enlog said.
Mrs. Enlog said her children informed her the next day that the barangay officials from Paradise Embac confirmed the death of her husband.
“Dako kaayong kaguol sa akong mga anak nganong nahitabo nga siya gipasinginlan nga usa ka NPA, sa pagkatinuod dili NPA ang akong bana. Dako akong gikatingala nganong naay giingon nila nga bomba ang tupad sa akong bana diin didto siya natumba? (My children are worried over accusations that my husband was an NPA member. The truth is he was not an NPA member. I wonder why they say that there was a bomb where my husband fell?),” she said.
“Ngano sila nakaingon nga akong bana myembro sa NPA? Ako ang asawa, 36 nami katuig nagipon sa akong bana. Ang iyang trabaho usa ka ordinaryong mag-uuma dili usa ka NPA (How could they say that my husband was an NPA member? I am the wife, I lived with him for 36 years. He is an ordinary farmer and not an NPA),” she said.
Felipe Carnasa, son of purok (village) leader Randy Carnasa who also died in the incident, said his father left home at around 9pm to go to Seisa’s residence.
“Gabii na siya ninglakaw kay gabii naman naabot ang bana ni Auntie Aida nga si Henry gikan namolawan sa Maco kay siya man ang nagdala sa handa ug sa pancit ug sa manok (He left home late because Henry, the husband of Aunt Aida, arrived late from mining gold in Maco. He was the one who bought noodles and chicken),” he said.
Felipe said his father also serves as a leader of the local church and a former leader of their village.
“My father is a leader of our church and a PSL (Pangulo sa Liturhiya). He is also a former purok leader and a member of the farmer’s group in our barangay,” he said.
Felipe also said his father works as a laborer in a banana plantation owned by the Puyod family.
“If he is laid-off from from work, he works as a carpenter. Recently, he worked as a carpenter in a private school in our community,” he said adding that on the day of the incident his father even reported to work in the morning before he was killed.
“Anang adlawa nagpanday pa siya, mao tong pagka-gabii mao natong nahitabo. Patay na siya (On that day he still worked as a carpenter. And then the incident happened at night, he is dead),” Felipe said.
Hanimay Suazo, spokesperson of Karapatan, said Enlog, Carnasa, and farmer Oligario Quimbo attended the birthday party of a 12-year old daughter of Seisa when soldiers fired at them indiscriminately.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Karapatan said Seisa is still missing “52 hours since her home was strafed by elements of the 69th IB, 12am of June 14.”
Seisa is the secretary-general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Southern Mindanao region. She is also the secretary general of the local farmer’s group Paquibato District Peasant Alliance who held a dialogue with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte last April 20.
Bello said a fact finding investigation is being conducted to find out who is responsible for the incident.
“But it would seem that [news reports] already labeled the victims as members of the NPA,” he said.
“We urge the military to revisit there policies and to investigate the actions of their own men allegedly involved in this incident,” Bello said.
Bello said they will hold a committee hearing and will invite the Army to attend.
Mrs. Enlog said she hopes that her husband’s death would be given justice. (With reports from Ace R. Morandante/davaotoday.com)