Makabayan solons seek probe of ‘lumad’ teachers’ killing | Inquirer News

Makabayan lawmakers seek probe of ‘lumad’ teachers’ killing

Slain volunteer teacher Chad Booc, for story: Makabayan lawmakers seek probe of ‘lumad’ teachers’ slay

Chad Booc

The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives has called for an “immediate” and “impartial” investigation into the killing of “lumad” (indigenous peoples) volunteer teachers Chad Booc, Gelejurain Ngujo II, a health worker and two other people in New Bataan, Davao de Oro province last week.

The six lawmakers from Bayan Muna, Gabriela, ACT Teachers and Kabataan party list groups filed House Resolution No. 2500 urging the committee on human rights to conduct a probe as they condemned the incident.


According to them, Booc was “active in documenting and exposing rights violations being committed by state armed forces in indigenous communities.”

“He was subjected to intense Red-tagging, threats and harassment by state forces and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict,” they said.


The lawmakers said the “conflicting accounts” on the death of Booc and his companions “shed doubt” on the military’s claim that the five were communist rebels killed in an encounter with soldiers.

Indigenous, rights and teachers groups also sought an investigation and condemned the killing of the “New Bataan 5” as they called on the military to return the bodies of Booc, Ngujo, community health worker Elgyn Balonga and their still unidentified driver-companions for autopsy and a proper burial.

The Save Our Schools Network (SOS), a coalition of groups working closely with the lumad community in Mindanao, said that Booc, Ngujo, Balonga and their drivers were not involved in any armed encounter but were on their way back to Davao City from a community visit in New Bataan.

Their families and colleagues only learned of their deaths on Feb. 25, when the 10th Infantry Division posted a press release on its official Facebook page about five civilians killed in an encounter.

Strongest condemnation

“We strongly assert that the victims were community volunteers and civilians from varying backgrounds, and their murder must merit the strongest condemnation,” SOS network said in a statement.

Another group, the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (Contend), also deplored the “cold-blooded murder” of Booc and Ngujo and called the military’s claim that the two were communists a “bare-faced lie.”

Booc, who graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines Diliman with a degree in computer science, had served lumad communities and was also one of the petitioners against the antiterror law.


Ngujo, an education graduate of Liceo de Davao Briz Campus in Tagum City, was a teacher at Community Technical College of Southeastern Mindanao and the Bakwit School in Manila.

Balonga, on the other hand, was a community health worker who served in UCCP Haran, a lumad sanctuary in Davao CIty.

The three were already victims of death threats, Red-tagging and terror-tagging because of the nature of their work in lumad communities.

“They were among the kindest and most gentle of people and the AFP killed them. We will not stop calling for truth, justice and accountability for their merciless killing. We will not forget,” Contend said, referring to Booc and Ngujo.

Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III, commander of the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade, said that soldiers were trying to thwart a food resupply run for the New People’s Army (NPA) on Feb. 24, the day the New Bataan 5 were killed.

He said there was a tip from civilians that a vehicle would bring food supplies to the NPA, leading to the deployment of soldiers to the “suspected drop-off point” in Barangay Andap, New Bataan.



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