By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — It was a massacre and not an encounter.
This is what transpired on Feb. 24 in Davao de Oro, Save Our Schools Network said in a statement.
Five civilians were killed allegedly by members of the Philippine military including volunteer teachers Chad Booc and Gelejurain Ngujo II.
The group vehemently condemned the massacre which the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed as an encounter between the military and the New People’s Army.
However, residents of Barangay Andap, New Bataan, Davao de Oro confirmed “that no encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the New People’s Army had transpired in the area.”
“What the AFP claims as an ‘encounter’ is in fact a massacre of civilians in the area. And in its attempt to justify these gruesome killings, the armed forces once again twist the truth to play into their narrative as they have done many times before,” SOS pointed out.
“If we recall the history of the Lumad in Mindanao, it is one that is rich in struggle for education, for the defense of their ancestral lands, and for the right to self-determination. All in the face of militarization brought about by the conflicting interests of private corporations and the state itself who want to bleed the Lumad’s ancestral lands dry for profit,” they added.
Communist Party of the Philippines spokesperson Marco Valbuena also said that local NPA unit in the area confirmed that no encounter happened.
There was no encounter in New Bataan, Davao de Oro, yesterday, where the AFP claims it killed activist Chad Booc and four others. This was confirmed to us by the local NPA unit in the area. The AFP’s “encounter” claim is an outright lie. This would not be the first time.
— Marco Valbuena (@cpp_marco) February 25, 2022
He called the claim of the military as an “outright lie.”
‘Killed in an encounter’ storyline repeatedly used
Valbuena said AFP’s “killed in an encounter” storyline “has repeatedly been used in the past to cover up the cold-blooded murder of civilians or unarmed people. We urge their family and friends to uncover the facts surrounding their deaths and demand justice for their murders.”
SOS Network also recalled that in 2015, two Lumad leaders and ALCADEV’s executive director were massacred in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
Read: ‘Soldiers watched as paramilitary attacked us’
In the same year the Pangantukan massacre happened killing 6 innocent civilians, including 2 minors and 2 elderly.
In 2017, Obello Bay-ao was murdered by soldiers in Lake Sebu. Bay-ao was on his way to his farm when he was accused by the soldiers to be a member of the New People’s Army.
“A storyline sold by the state forces that was not so different from the murder of another minor in 2018 who was suspected to be a part of the NPA while he was heading out to school. And once again, the same narrative that is continually being proliferated now by the AFP when they brutally killed Chad and Jurain,” SOS Network said.
With the rich resources of Mindanao, several troops were deployed in the island to protect the interests of foreign investors. This resulted in the vast militarization of many areas in Mindanao, displacing the Lumad from their ancestral lands or killing them.
Read: Context of Talaingod incident | The decades-old struggle of Lumad in Pantaron Mountain Range for ancestral land, right to self-determination
Meanwhile, netizens who knew Booc and Ngujo are calling for justice.
There was no encounter. They killed my friend Chad Booc who was selflessly teaching Lumad children in cold blood, dressed him in military gear, fed photos of his body to the media, and paraded his killing like a trophy.#JusticeForChadBooc
— Rey #67GABRIELA (@rosereyde) February 25, 2022
AFP killed teacher activist Chad Booc and four others, fabricated an “encounter” to cover the massacre, and paraded his corpse virtually.
Ang hirap i-process ng lahat ng nangyayari, pero let’s call it as it is: AFP berdugo, sinungaling. Demand justice! #JusticeForChadBooc
— Leonard Javier #LeniKiko Colmenares Labog Diokno ? (@STPbasileo) February 25, 2022
Chad Booc dedicated his life to educating & empowering lumad communities, and inspiring youth in the process. I am devastated & outraged by his sensenless killing as well as those of his companions.
Their murderers and red-taggers must be brought to justice. #JusticeForChadBooc
— Gideon Lasco (@gideonlasco) February 25, 2022
Booc has been constantly red-tagged by the military and once posted the online threats he received from alleged soldiers. (RTS)