2 suspects arrested in ambush of Subanen chieftainBy Tito Fiel
BAYOG, Zamboanga del Sur – Police authorities here have arrested two suspects in the ambush that killed the son of a Subanen chieftain in the forefront of the fight for ancestral domain of his tribespeople.
Inspector Erol Alejo, town police chief, said on Saturday that Marlon Luao and Coloy Entag were arrested in their houses in Barangay (village) Conacon around 10 a.m. Friday. The police also seized a caliber .45 pistol and bullets from one of the suspects, he said.
Alejo said the two suspects were identified by some witnesses as among the armed men, who ambushed Timuay Lucenio Manda on Tuesday.
Manda was driving his son, Jordan, to the school when five to eight armed men fired on him. He sustained a minor injury at the back but Jordan suffered fatal gunshot wounds that led to his death.
Alejo said the arrest of the suspects was conducted with the Army. “The suspects were about to escape when we got them,” he said.
The two men are now detained at the Zamboanga del Sur police headquarters pending the filing of charges against them, Alejo said.
He said the investigation as to the motive of the ambush was continuing.
Manda had said he could not immediately think of any reason why would somebody attempt to kill him.
“I and the villagers are already in good terms after we addressed issues over my group’s opposition to the operation of some mining companies here,” Manda, who heads the Pigsalabukan Gukom di Bayog, said.
Recently, Manda led a group of Subanen chieftains in calling for a moratorium on all forms of mining in their claimed ancestral domains until after they have secured their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) and Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP), the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) said in a statement.
Manda is also leading an effort to strengthen and unify the efforts of the Subanens in the Central Zamboanga Peninsula to claim and protect their remaining ancestral domain, ATM said.
“He, along with Catholic bishops and concerned groups, has petitioned for a writ of kalikasan in a bid to protect the Pinukis Range Forest, described as among the last untouched forest region in the Zamboanga Peninsula but was included in the mining claims of several companies,” ATM added.
The militant anti-mining group said Manda’s fight for ancestral domain rights could be behind the ambush.
“Timuay Manda has been leading his tribe in claiming and protecting their ancestral domain in the last 10 years,” ATM said.
The militant group said in 2002, Timuay Giovanni Umbang was also killed because of his campaign for ancestral domain. Manda and Umbag were cousins.