Nine Tumandok indigenous peoples have been massacred by combined police and military operations in Panay Island earlier today, Wednesday, according to reports.
Two days before the year ends, 12th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (12IBPA) troopers and the Philippine National Police in Western Visayas swooped down on Tumandok communities in Calinog in Iloilo and Tapaz in Capiz and killed the victims in a Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operation (SEMPO).
Among those killed in Lahug, Tapaz were Tumandok nga Mangunguma nga Nagapangapin sa Duta kag Kabuhi/Tumandok Farmers in Defense of Land and Life (TUMANDUK) chairperson and Barangay Lahug Councilor Roy Giganto.
Giganto, also a former Barangay Lahug chairperson, was killed along with co-councilors Reynaldo Katipunan and Mario Aguirre.
An Eliseo Gayas in Barangay Aglinab, a Mauro Diaz in Barangay Tacayan, and an Artilito Katipunan in Barangay Acuna were also reportedly killed in the same operation.
UPDATE (8:50 PM): The number of massacre victims, previously reported as eight, have risen to nine.
The two other previously unnamed victims of the massacre have been identified as Barangay Daan Sur, Tapaz, Capiz chairperson Dalson Catamin, kapitan and Jomer Vidal of Barangay Nayawan of the same town.
The ninth victim, also a resident from Barangay Daan Sur, has yet to be identified.
Panay Island farmers’ alliance Pamanggas reported that the other victims’ families were ordered outside their homes before the victims were shot.
They were unarmed when killed by the military and the police, Pamanggas said.
Two Barangay Aglinab youths were also taken and remain missing, the reports said.
In Barangay Garangan, Calinog town, Tumandoks Luisito Bautista Jr., Marilyn Chiva, Welsie Chiva, at Glen Legario were arrested by the military.
Alternative news outfit Panay Today said a total of 15 Tumandok have been arrested.
Marevic Aguirre, former TUMANDUK chairperson, also remains missing, it added.
Victims all red-tagged
Some of the victims, such as Giganto and Gayas, were known Tumandok tribal leaders who stood against the Jalaur Mega Dam project in their ancestral domain.
They also refused to sign the consent resolution asked of indigenous peoples before projects are implemented in their ancestral land.
Giganto was earlier reported to have been arrested by the military and the police but later turned up dead.
Gayas was also earlier reported arrested by the SEMPO and tortured until he vomited blood.
Bautista is also a barangay councilor who had been red-tagged and summoned by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) at the 12IBPA camp just last month.
Last December 11, NTF-ELCAC asset Jeffrey Celis accused TUMANDUK as a front organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army in the indeginous people’s area in Panay island. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)