Militias kill teenager in Southern Philippines
DAVAO CITY – A teenager was shot dead by pro-government militias whose group has been linked by human rights workers to the spate of attacks on tribal groups in southern Philippines, the non-governmental organization Save Our Schools (SOS) said.
It said members of the Alamara paramilitary group attacked Alibando Tingkas, 15, in Palma Gil village in Davao del Norte’s Talaingod town. Two of Tingkas’ companion managed to flee and reported the weekend attack to tribal leaders.
SOS – which condemned the killing - said Tingkas, a grade three pupil of Salugpongan Elementary School, was heading home when the gunman attacked him. It said the teener is the 29th child victim of extrajudicial killing in the region. It said a tribal leader - Datu Manliro Landahay - a council member of Salugpongan Lumad Organization in Talaingod was also killed by Alamara in November last year.
“We are enraged and saddened by this incident. The paramilitary group and their military cohorts will not stop from attacking and even killing lumads in the name of their counter-insurgency operations, even children are not spared anymore,” Rius Valle, spokesperson of the SOS Network in Southern Mindanao, said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
He said witnesses to the attack tagged the Alamara as behind the killing. The body of Tingkas was recovered by villagers, according to Valle, who fears the militias would launch more attacks against indigenous people who are not supporting the government’s anti-insurgency operations in the South.
Valle said teachers of Salugpongan Elementary School are also receiving death threats after militias accused them as members of the NPA.
He said militias in September last year also brutally killed a school principal and two tribal leaders in Lianga town in Surigao del Sur province, and also the forcible closure and demolition of a Fr. Fausto Tentorio Memorial School in Bukidnon’s Kitaotao town on suspicion they were used as front of the communist rebel group.
“SOS will be conducting further investigation of this matter. We urge the local government of Talaingod to investigate and apprehend those responsible in the killing of the teenager, and for the national leadership to take heed lest things go out of hand and they will also suffer the consequences,” Valle said, adding, “we are now focusing our efforts to secure the victim’s family, the witnesses and the teachers at the Salugpongan school.”
There was no immediate statement from the military and police on the murder of Tingkas, but security officials had previously denied funding or supporting militia groups in the region, and blamed the attacks on tribal war.
Policemen stand outside the NCCC Mall in Tagum City in Davao del Norte province following a heist that left one security guard dead in a shootout. (Mindanao Examiner Photo - Jayson Mag-usara)