3 lumad killed in Surigao Sur: Army says they’re Reds, rights group says they’re not
MANILA, Philippines—The military on Thursday (June 17) announced the killing of three members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in a clash with government troopers in Surigao del Sur province.
A team of Special Forces soldiers of the Philippine Army fought with communist rebels at the village of Diatagan, Lianga town last June 15, according to a statement from Maj. Rodulfo Cordero, Army 4th Infantry Division spokesperson.
Cordero said the rebels fired at soldiers and detonated an anti-personnel mine. This was followed by “intense firefight” between the guerrillas and soldiers that lasted for more than 10 minutes.
Cordero identified the three rebels killed in the clash as Lenie Perez Rivas, 38; Willy Salinas Rodriguez, 20 and a 12-year-old child whose name was withheld.
Soldiers seized rebel weapons at the clash site, Cordero said.
The rebels were believed to belong to the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee of NPA.
Rights group Karapatan, however, said the three killed were lumad, or indigenous peoples, from the Manobo tribe and had only been tagged as NPA members.
Karapatan said Rivas and Rodriguez were members of lumad group Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod while the 12-year-old was a student of the lumad school Tribal Filipino Program in Surigao del Sur.
Cordero, however, said he was certain that the three killed were NPA members because they were armed when soldiers encountered them.
He said Manobo tribe was vulnerable to NPA recruitment because they live in the mountains.
“They are easily recruited by NPA because they are in the mountains and they are common targets for recruitment by NPA units in the region,” Cordero said. “In fact, in the entire Mindanao,” he said.
“It is not surprising that lumad Manobo were killed in the encounter,” he said.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.