Duterte offers Lumad P20,000 bounty for every rebel killed
DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte has offered the Lumad (non-Muslim indigenous people) P20,000 for each New People’s Army (NPA) guerrilla they kill, raising fears of an escalation of violence that has driven thousands of natives to flee their communities to avoid getting caught in the crossfire between government forces and communist insurgents.
Mr. Duterte announced the bounty he had offered to the lumad during a talk with reporters here on Friday.
Hunt for Lumad killers
The President said he also offered to train the indigenous people in fighting the NPA.
“Give me about three months, I will train them as Cafgu members,” he said, referring to the militia group Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit.
The President has repeatedly accused the Left of using the Lumad to fight the government.
He said he would arm the indigenous people and deploy them to hunt down “those who killed their comrades.”
Mr. Duterte was referring to the recent killing of a tribal leader and his son, which the President blamed on the NPA. The insurgents have never denied nor owned up to the killings.
“You want money? For every NPA that you can kill, you Lumad who would become Cafgu, I’ll pay you,” Mr. Duterte said.
Kerlan Fanagel, chair of the Pasaka Confederation, an umbrella organization of 39 Lumad groups from an area that extends from the Caraga region to Central Mindanao, said Mr. Duterte’s plan was alarming.
“He’s now using the Lumad as bait,” Fanagel said. “What kind of solution would it bring?”
Instead of ending the insurgency, he said, giving the Lumad a prominent role in fighting the guerrillas would further divide the natives.
The bounty would lead to more killings of Lumad, especially those tagged as communist insurgents or sympathizers of the communists, he said.
“It’s not the responsibility of the Lumad to run after insurgents,” said Fanagel, who is a B’laan.
“The government should protect us from those causing us suffering, like large corporations,” he said.
The solution to the communist insurgency, he added, is to deal with its roots, like poverty,
Mr. Duterte has not stopped ranting against the communist insurgents since he terminated peace talks with them late last year.
At a meeting with selected Lumad groups earlier this month, Mr. Duterte tried to rally the natives against the NPA.
After the meeting, a Lumad leader who supported the government, Datu Banadjao Mampaundag, and his son, Jhonard, were killed allegedly by NPA guerrillas in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
On Wednesday, Lumad leaders supporting the government’s counterinsurgency campaign threatened to wage a tribal war to avenge the killing of Mampaundag and his son.
But that, too, would be dangerous, according to Fanagel, because it could lead to the targeting of Lumad who had been tagged as communist insurgents.
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