By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
Kodao Productions / Bulatlat.com
MANILA — Nine Tumandok indigenous peoples have been killed by combined police and military operations in Panay Island earlier today, Wednesday, according to local peasant group Pamanggas.
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 nine civilians in a Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operation (SEMPO).
Among those killed in Lahug, Tapaz were Roy Giganto, chairperson of TUMANDUK chairperson and Barangay Lahug councilor, co-councilors Reynaldo Katipunan and Mario Aguirre.
Other victims were identified as Eliseo Gayas of Barangay Aglinab, Mauro Diaz of Barangay Tacayan, and Artilito Katipunan of Barangay Acuna, Arcelito Katipunan of barangay Acuña, Jomer Vidal of barangay Daan Sur, Tapaz, and Dalson Catamin of Nayawan. One of the victims has yet to be identified as of this writing.
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 17 Tumandok have been arrested.
Marevic Aguirre, former TUMANDUK chairperson, also remains missing, it added.
Victims all red-tagged
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 indigenous people’s area in Panay island.
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 12th Infantry Battalion camp just last month.
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.
In a statement, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment condemned the massacre. “It is not a crime for TUMANDUK to consistently stand against destructive projects such as the Jalaur Megadam and the Panay River Basin Integrated Development Project,” Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator Leon Dulce said in a statement.
At least 17,000 Tumandoks are to be displaced by the Jalaur Megadam project, which is expected to cause flooding and other water problems to at least 1.2 million residents along the Jalaur River Basin.
The Panay River Basin project, meanwhile, will affect at least 19 barangays. Its catchment area is projected to flood at least 21,100 hectares of lands, affecting Tumandok ancestral domains.