DAVAO CITY – The couple killed by a government militia in Kapalong, Davao del Norte province last Saturday owns the only corn mill in an interior village.

Reynaldo Labra Martir, 50, and his wife Teresita, 48, were tending to their corn mill and its adjacent store in Purok 2, Sitio Patel in Barangay Gupitan when the incident happened afternoon on Black Saturday.

The suspect was identified as Panggong Bucad or Panggong Masaloon, a member of the Citized Armed Forces Geographical Unit in Gupitan.

Police Officer 2 Mario Renquijo of the Kapalong Police Station said the incident happened around 3:30 pm.

One of the eight children of the couple narrated the incident as reported by witnesses, who were mostly lining up to get their corns milled when it happened.  The daughter requested anonymity for fear of the suspect.
The daughter said the suspect was a member of the paramilitary group Alamara,  and has just previously finished training as a Cafgu last January.

“Ang ilang istorya, gusto siya mosingit sa pagpagaling, si Mr. Panggong Masaloon. Naay nagpagaling nga silingan nila nasugatan daw siya. Miingon siya nga pwede ba ko matabangan nga masingit didto sa galingan kay gamay ra man daw ang ipagaling nila (According to their stories, one of the neighbors of Panggong Masaloon, asked him for help so he could easily mill his corn without lining up),” the daughter said adding that her father refused because their corn mill has a first come, first served guideline.

“Ingon akong papa nga dili man na pwede bai kay kaning mga tao diri mangasuko na kay naa nay nauna (My father said that’s not allowed, the people who got here first might get angry),” she said in an interview during a fact finding mission initiated by the human rights group Karapatan on Monday.

Masaloon then told her father that he will be back.

“Niana daw nga hulat lang diha kay balikan taka si Panggong (Panggong reportedly told my father wait here, I’ll be back),” the daughter said.

She said her father did not expect the suspect, who was drunk that time, to still return. She said the suspect went back after 30 minutes, called the attention of her father and fired at him.

“Mga 30 minutes lang daw dayon nibalik , dali lang nahubog kay way kaon, pagbalik daw niya gisitsitan daw nya akong papa then gipaarakan (They said he was back after 30 minutes only, he got easily drunk because he did not eat. When he came back he called my father and fired at him),” the daughter said adding that her father fell to the catcher of milled corn (saloanan sa tiktik sa mais).

She said when the suspect saw her mother at the store which is adjacent to their corn mill, he also fired at her “thrice”.

Missing witness

The daughter said several people who were her parents’ customers at that time saw what happened, including her sister-in-law. One of the witnesses who was next in line at the corn mill was missing, she said.

She identified the witness as “Efren” who, she said, was reportedly taken from their house at around 10 pm.

“Supposed to be naa mi witness katong nagsunod og galing. Pero gikuha pagka-gabii ana. Hantod karon wala (We supposedly have a witness, the one who was next in line in the corn mill. But he was taken on the night of the incident. Until now, he’s missing),” she said adding that the witness failed to appear on their schedule to file the case at 8 am on Monday. She said they do not know who took him or who “hid him”.

The daughter also believes the murder of her parents are “senseless”.

“Makaingon mi nga nonsense ang ilang kamatayon. Walay klaro , walay basehan nganong giing-ana sila (I could say that their death was senseless. There was no basis why they were killed),” she said.

Mayor Edgardo Timbol of Kapalong said in an interview with Radyo ni Juan Tagum on Sunday that the suspect was immediately surrendered to the police by its army officer.

Timbol assured the victims’ family that the local government will assist them.

Paramilitary groups

In a statement on Tuesday, Karapatan in Southern Mindanao called for the disbandment of the Cafgu and Alamara following the death of the couple.

“Panggong was positively identified to be an Alamara member by residents in the area, trained and armed by the 60th IB of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).  He went a month-long training led by the military who recently claimed him to be member of the Cafgu,”  said Karapatan secretary general, Hanimay Suazo.

Suazo said the armed forces has denied the existence of Alamara.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines has been employing the lumads in the area for its suppose military operations against NPAs by forcibly recruiting them to be members of Alamara, now masquerading as Cafgu. Whatever the military call these groups, they are part of the mercenaries who continue to disregard the concept of civilian supremacy,” Suazo said. (With reports from Ace R. Morandante/davaotoday.com)

comments powered by Disqus