Manobo tribesman: 'NPA now hunt us like wild animals'

Photo courtesy of Manila Times and PNA

Last Sunday, a government trooper killed by rebel communist last week in the Surigao del Sur town of San Miguel was laid to rest.

According to Philippine News Agency (PNA), Wilson Esta Behing, a member of the Manobo tribe in Barangay Carromata, San Miguel, was killed by the communist group, New People’s Army (NPA) on Tuesday (April 14) while working in his farm and was unarmed. 

The actual killing of Behing was done in front of his children according to the reports.

During the burial ceremony of Behing, his brother Nilo, turned emotional and begun condemning and cursing the rebel NPAs for alleged several killings of civillians and mostly members of indigenous peoples (IP) in their area.

“We were once considered by them (NPA) as their masses. But time went on that we could no longer comprehend what they are fighting for, so we decided to support the government for our own good,” Nilo explained in a recorded statement sent to the PNA Sunday.

“In the mountains where the IPs reside, the NPA rebel now hunt us like wild animals. They completely disregarded the value of our lives,” Nilo added.

This communist rebel movement should stop saying that the masses in the countryside are the "strength and hope of this country, for now, they are killing innocent civilians" Nilo said.

The National Commission of Indigenous Peoples in Caraga Region (NCIP-13), the Philippine Army, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) heavily condemned this atrocious killing of Behing.

Last March 19, the NPA also killed Datu Bernandino Astudillo, 73, the Manobo tribal leader of Magroyong, San Miguel and a civilian identified as Zaldy Ibanez, 52.

The several killing of tribesmen by the NPA who do not support the armed rebellion, Nilo was calling out the government to consider providing round-the-clock security to IP communities as they now fear going back to their ancestral lands because the NPA rebels are "roaming around and hunting us".

“This is my appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte. Help the IPs to have peaceful lives so that we could move on with our lives, produce food for our families,” Nilo said.

On the other hand, the victim’s widow, Amie, expressed sadness and fear with the loss of her husband. She is worried about the future of her five children now that her husband is gone. Her eldest is 10 and the youngest is three.

“I don’t know how to survive with my children. They are still young. The NPA has stolen their future. They have no heart to our children,” Amie said in the local dialect.

“Why did the NPA kill my husband? How grave was his sin that they decided to take his life?” she added.

Amie recount how the NPA killed her husband in front of their children "who were helpless to defend their father".

“My children are really affected. Oftentimes, they cry when they recall that day when the NPA killed their father. I really pity them. This will not be lost in their memory until they grow up,” Amie said.

Datu Rico Maca, the Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of San Miguel town, has appealed to the NPA to "stop the killing of civilians, especially the IPs".

Maca who happens to be the older brother of Amie and the brother-in-law of the victim, Behing.

“Life is very difficult for us now with the danger posed by Covid-19 (2019 coronavirus disease) and the continuing threats of the NPA," Maca said in an interview with the PNA.

“With the Covid-19, most of the IPs want to go back and concentrate in remote villages to be safe and to have a chance to farm for a living. But the NPA rebels are also there waiting and ready to kill us. Where will the IPs go?” he said.

Datu Maca also appealed to the government to give justice to his brother-in-law, as well as for government agencies to help the widow of Behing and her children.

“In the middle of this pandemic, my sister and the other widows whose husbands were killed by the NPA need immediate intervention by the government,” Maca said.

The New Peoples' Army (NPA) is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. 

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