Suspected militiamen kill Lumad student
TAGUM CITY — The killing of a 19-year-old Lumad (indigenous peoples) student in Talaingod town in Davao del Norte province, allegedly by members of a paramilitary group, drew condemnation from militant groups even as the police assured they were pursuing two persons of interest behind the crime.
Rius Valle, spokesperson of Save Our Schools (SOS) Network in Mindanao, said Obillo Bay-ao, a Grade 6 student of Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC), a tribal school in Talaingod, was shot and killed by militiamen at past 2 p.m. on Tuesday while on his way home from their farm.
Valle said Bay-ao was attacked as he was nearing his village. Although wounded, Bay-ao still managed to run. His killers pursued him but stopped when several people saw Bay-ao and helped him.
Bay-ao’s mother took him to Davao Regional Hospital but he died at 9 p.m.
He was the 47th Lumad killed in the Davao region since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power, according to SOS Network in Mindanao.
Senior Supt. Marcial Magistrado IV, Davao del Norte police chief, said investigators were looking into two persons of interest in the attack. He said witnesses saw two persons shoot Bay-ao.
“The killing only goes to show that Lumad killings continue under President Duterte’s regime,” Valle said. “We hold President Duterte’s government responsible for the spate of Lumad killings in Mindanao.”
Valle said the Lumad school STTICLC had been targeted by military operations since 2008, forcing students and their parents to evacuate.
“[Bay-ao] was among the 200 evacuees who fled their homes in July following threats … to burn down the school,” Valle said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the vilification campaign against youth groups, Lumad and activists led to the attacks.
“Even President Duterte red-tagged and threatened to bomb Lumad schools,” Zarate said, vowing to seek a congressional inquiry into Bay-ao’s killing.
“We demand that President Duterte retract his statement threatening to bomb Lumad schools and end martial law in Mindanao,” said Eule Rico Bonganay, secretary general of Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns and lead convener of Save Our Schools Network in Mindanao.
On Saturday, two members of a militant farmers’ group were gunned down by suspected military agents in Davao City, the human rights group Karapatan said.
But Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson for the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command, denied soldiers were behind the murder of couple Jezreel and Dalia Arabis, who were members of the Farmers’ Association of Davao City.
They just arrived home in Tamayong village in Calinan district when they were shot and killed by suspected agents of the Army’s 84th and 3rd Infantry Battalions (IB), said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.
Balagtey said the 84th IB was no longer in Davao since last year, hence, could not be behind the killing.
“We condemn the [killings]. We are one in seeking justice for their deaths,” Balagtey said.
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