Duterte peace adviser, ex-AFP chief Galvez says NPA behind lumad leader’s murder
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — A former armed forces chief now advising the President on the peace process sought to pin the blame for the murder of a lumad leader on Saturday on communist rebels.
Carlito Galvez, former AFP chief and now peace adviser to President Rodrigo Duterte, said New People’s Army (NPA) members launched the attack that killed the lumad leader.
The rebels, Galvez said, were also behind the burning of an indigenous people’s livelihood center at the village of Panansalan in Compostela, Davao de Oro last Dec. 30.
“By and large, these attacks run counter to the cessation of hostilities declared between the Reds and government during the holiday season,” Galvez said in a statement.
The government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) declared a 15-day holiday ceasefire from Dec. 23, 2019, to Jan. 7, 2020.
In a directive heeding the truce, the NDFP ordered NPA units to stand down and not launch attacks on government targets for 15 days.
There was no mention of civilians or those suspected of spying for the military, in the NDFP directive.
Datu Sammy Diwangan, 45, an Umayamnon leader and IP representative of the village of Canangaan, Cabanglasan town in Bukidnon was killed while cutting wood in his farm last Jan. 4.
Lt. Col. Ronald Illana, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion, said Diwangan was with his nine-year-old son and another companion when the rebels waylaid them and killed the IP leader.
The NPA has not issued any statement claiming responsibility for the murder of Diwangan.
Illana said the municipal government of Cabanglasan has convened a fact-finding team to look into the murder.
“Diwangan has been receiving death threats for helping the Army thwart the NPA expansion in the mountains of Cabanglasan,” Illana said.
Illana added that the military has repeatedly warned Diwangan not to venture out of his farm because of these threats.
He said Diwangan believed he would not be harmed by the NPA because there was an ongoing ceasefire.
Illana said the NPA had accused Diwangan of leading a notorious anti-communist paramilitary group called Alamara.
“Clearly, these acts of terrorism are meant to instill fear, anger and hatred in the hearts and minds of the people, particularly among our lumad brothers and sisters,” Galvez said.
Edited by TSB
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