Hawudon Jomar Bucales’ death last Sunday brought “a deep sense of justice” to the people of the community, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said in announcing it was the New People’s Army (NPA) that ambushed and killed the leader of the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani.
The CPP hailed the death of Bucales, calling him a mastermind of the brutal murders of tribal leaders and a school director in September 1, 2015 that later became known as the Lianga Massacre.
“The NPA unit in Surigao del Sur deserves the highest commendation. The Party and the Filipino people congratulate them for their success,” the group said.
“The broad masses of Lianga celebrate the successful NPA ambush. They feel a deep sense of justice with the death of Bucales,” it added.
A spot report by the Lianga police said the October 4 incident in Sitio Mamsapranon, Barangay Banahao also killed one Alberto Belonio Dela Peña and wounded paramilitary troopers Ronald Acevedo and Artemio Muldes as well as their companion Oliver Rosaldo.
A statement by the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army said Muldes also died.
Bucales and party were on their way home on board two motorcycles from an Indigenous Peoples’ Mandatory Representative (IPMR) meeting in Barangay San Isidro when waylaid by the NPA’s Guerilla Front 19, the police report said.
A 25-minute gun battle ensued that ended when the guerrillas withdrew, it added.
The CPP said Bucales played a key role in the murder of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) executive director Emerito Samarca and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo in 2015.
In a House of Representatives hearing on November 11, 2015, Bucales seemingly justified the massacre by accusing the award-winning school for Lumad children of brainwashing its graduates to later join the NPA.
“Siya ang naglalason sa mga tao…Iyan ang rason, kasi iyong mga graduate ng ALCADEV, pumupunta sa kilusan,” Bucales said.
(He [Samarca] poisoned the minds of the people…That was the reason, because ALCADEV graduates later joint the [communist] movement.)
The murders prompted then Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel, now the province’s Second District Representative, to demand the Magahat-Bagani’s disbandment, calling it a “monster created by the military.”
Senator Koko Pimentel and former Senator Teofisto Guingona III also called for the arrest of Bucales and other leaders of the paramilitary during a Senate inquiry on the massacre.
They were ignored by government security forces , however, allowing Bucales to roam free in Andap Valley, a mining hotspot of the country.
The CPP said a “people’s court” had previously been formed to try Bucales and others for the Lianga Massacre where the Magahat-Bagani leader’s key role in the murders were pointed out.
The group said Bucales ignored their summons and refused to stand trial.
Continuing threats against Lumad schools
The CPP also said Bucales’ Magahat-Bagani received guns, funding and publicity support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and mining companies operating in the area.
“He and his paramilitary group were being misrepresented as ‘NPA surrenderees’ by the 3rd Infantry Battalion in order to funnel funds for counterinsurgency into their pockets. Endorsed by the military, he was appointed by Lianga town officials as its Mandatory Indigenous Peoples Representative, the CPP said.
The CPP said Bucales has recently been issuing renewed threats against the leaders of the ALCADEV community school in behalf of the military.
“In recent months, the people of Lianga have been subjected to intense militarization, aerial bombings and gross human rights abuses, in order to break the people’s resistance to the further aggression of mining operations in their areas,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)