‘Lumad’ leader among 6 slain in Bohol clash — AFP
CEBU CITY — One of the six suspected communist rebels killed in a series of encounters with government forces in Bohol province on Sept. 7 was identified as a ranking official of a group that organized street demonstrations in Metro Manila and Mindanao advocating for the rights of indigenous peoples (IPs).
Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Visayas Command (Viscom) based in Cebu City, on Saturday identified the slain alleged rebel as Kerlan Fanagel, the chair of Pasakaday Salugpungan Kalimudan (Pasaka)-Confederation of Lumad Organization in Southern Mindanao.
Fanagel, who lived in Barangay Poblacion in Malapatan, Sarangani province, was also a suspected member of the Regional Urban Committee of the New People’s Army (NPA) Southern Mindanao Regional Command, according to Arevalo.
The military did not provide details on how he was killed. Fanagel’s body was claimed by his brother from Baguio Funeral Homes in Carmen, Bohol, on Sept. 12, according to Arevalo.
Fanagel, along with 14 other leaders of different progressive organizations, was facing charges filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group on May 12, 2015, for kidnapping and serious illegal detention and human trafficking in relation to the evacuation of hundreds of IPs from Talaingod, Davao del Norte, to Davao City.
Fanagel was previously identified as Rogelio Jorillo from Minglanilla town of Cebu, based on an identification card recovered from his belongings, said Arevalo.
“This is a clear manifestation of the deceptive tactics employed by the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA. They infiltrate different sectors in our community to include our indigenous peoples, organize them, and use them to go against the government,” Arevalo said in a statement.
Fanagel’s real identity was ascertained only after further verification and consultation with former rebels, the military officer said.
Aside from being the chair of Pasaka, Arevalo said Fanagel was also a member of a national IP organization called Katribu, Kalumaran Mindanao, and Sandugo, an alliance of Moro and IP organizations.
“The presence of Fanagel here in the Visayas validates our assessment that the CPP-NPA is exerting efforts to recover their lost mass bases in the region, which was cleared from NPA infestation by our community support program teams with the support of the local task force to end local communist armed conflict,” Arevalo said.
He echoed the government’s commitment to never allow the resurgence of the CPP-NPA in the region.
“We will not allow the CPP-NPA from regaining their foothold anywhere in the region. The people themselves have spoken. They don’t want anything to do with the terrorist group,” Arevalo said.
He added: “As such, Team Viscom will sustain our momentum and push the CPP-NPA further to the point of their eventual defeat. Thus, we call on them to return to the folds of the law now, while they still have the chance.” INQ