DAVAO CITY — Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was furious over rumors that he is protecting Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, the leader of the religious sect Jesus Christ: A Name Above Every Name, whose name was dragged into the slaying of tribal leader Dominador Diarog.

In his weekly television program, Duterte said that even if Quiboloy is his friend, he will not protect him once he committed something wrong.

Quiboloy was recently linked to the April 29 strafing of Diarog’s house in sitio (subvillage) Kahusayan, barangay (village) Manuel Guianga in Calinan. It killed the tribal leader and wounded his wife and four children, three of whom were minors. According to Diarog’s wife, men identified with Quiboloy had been threatening Diarog to sell their two-hectare piece of land adjacent to Quiboloy’s prayer mountain in Tamayong. But Quiboloy denied this.

In a one-page advertisement published in the local papers, Quiboloy said some people may have dragged the name of the “kingdom” to confuse, distort the true picture of the incident, or mislead the authorities.

A day after the body of Diarog was laid to rest, Datu Docris Daug and some Lumads (indigenous people) from the K’tala-Bagobo tribe picketed City Hall asking for the mayor’s help over the death of their leader. But Duterte was not around. His absence made the Lumads think he was keeping his hands off the investigation of the crime.

Shortly after Diarogs death, Duterte said he could not believe Quiboloy could do what some Lumad groups accused the religious leader of doing. Duterte refrained from making other comments pending the result of the police’s and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) investigations.

Earlier, Task Force Davao (TFD) under the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s (AFP) 73rd Infantry Battalion blamed the New People’s Army (NPA) for the killing of Diarog but the NPA denied having a hand in it.

In a statement, the NPA condemned the killing. The NPA said it was a “despicable attack” on indigenous peoples who resist all attempts to occupy and grab what remains of their diminishing ancestral lands.

The NPA also claimed to have conducted its investigation and pointed to the TFD at the behest of Quiboloy, as the culprits.

Quiboloy called the accusations as “false and baseless, if not ridiculous.” He said Mayor Duterte already “dismissed” the rumors as “untrue.”

“Only the police and the military have the authority to investigate and render findings and report,” Quiboloy’s statement said.

But the human-rights group Karapatan feared a possible whitewash on the ongoing investigation on Diarog’s case. “We fear that the ongoing probe will follow on the fate of other cases on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, where state culpability in the end was absolved,” said Kelly Delgado, Karapatan secretary-general, in a statement.

Karapatan said Diarog, his family and tribesman were only defending their land against the interest of a prominent and influential person.

“The investigation should be done with sincerity,” Delgado said. “It should resolve the case, prosecute liable persons and give justice to the family.”

On Tuesday, May 13, Emily Diarog, the slain tribal leader’s wife, her son and two relatives asked the City Council’s help. In a regular session, the family expressed its demands before the lawmakers.

Emily and her relatives asked for justice for the death of Datu Diarog. They also asked that their ancestral land, allegedly taken from them by force, be given back to them.

Diarog’s case has been referred to the three City Council committees, namely the committee on cultural communities under Councilor Arnolfo Cabling; peace and public safety under Councilor Nilo Abellera; and civil, political and human rights under Councilor Karlo Bello. (Marilou M. Aguirre/davaotoday.com)

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