Talaingod IP leader: AFP’s ‘all-out war’ vs. NPA may target us, too

Feb. 12, 2017

Datu Kailo Bontulan. (Earl O. Condeza/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A Lumad leader from Talaingod, Davao del Norte, said the government’s all-out war against the New People’s Army, the armed-wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, would target them too.

“Dakong kabalaka sa mga Lumad, possible kami na pud mga Lumad target sa all out war (We, the Lumad are worried that we will be targeted of [the government’s] all-out war),” Datu Kailo Bontulan said during the peace rally held at the Freedom Park Friday.

“They [the military] will just stay in our barrio and search for our leaders and kill them,” he said.

It can be recalled that last Feb. 7, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced the government’s all-out war against the NPA.

Lorenzana’s announcement came after President Rodrigo Duterte labelled the Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and the NPA as “terrorists.”

“Soldiers (have started) preparing for the inevitable armed conflict with NPA,” Lorenzana said.

He, however, clarified that the government troops would “only target the armed component.”

But Bontulan belied Lorenzana’s claim, pointing out the military’s record of human rights abuses when they were deployed in IP communities.

“The killings happened in the mountain, it will not reach here, it happened in the past but no soldier would admit that they are killing civilians,” Bontulan said.

The Lumad leader expressed hope that the government would resume talks with the Communists, saying that IPs were the usual “victims of the armed conflict.”

“We hope that the peace talks will resume, that is what Digong [Duterte] said during election period that he wanted peace here in the country,” Bontulan said.

“That is why the peace talks should resume because that is what the Lumad are hoping for,” he added.

Apart from Bontulan, various groups also supported the calls on the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the communist group.

Exodus for Justice and Peace Jurie Jaime said that he was still hopeful for the talks to resume.

“As a peace watchdog, we want the peace talks to resume because the interest of the people is anchored here,” he said. “It is true that the church serves as the reminders if it will not be watched.”

“We still hope that they will continue to talk peace and we pray for both parties to seriously sit again to talk. The people here love peace,” Bishop Hamuel Tequis of the United Church of Christ said. (davaotoday.com)

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