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Davao City, Philippines

The NPA’s lack of humanity

March 23, 2020 - Monday 6:03 PM by MDM

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The atrocious killing of 73-year-old Indigenous People’s leader Bernardio M. Astudillo in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur deserves utmost condemnation in the strongest terms.

Astudillo and another villager, Zaldez Ibanez, 52, were hacked to death by elements of the self-styled New People’s Army (NPA) on March 19 in their respective residences in the Manobo village of Magroyong where Astudillo is tribal chieftain.

Before his death, Astudillo was known for his firm support for the whole-of-government approach to end insurgency.

Ibanez, on the other hand, was a former NPA supporter who switched to the government side.

Colonel James Goforth, provincial police commander of Surigao del Sur, said the NPA was positively identified by villagers, who watched helplessly while the rebels unleashed their brand of justice.

The killing has been denounced widely by government and civic society leaders in the Caraga Region.

Whatever their motives, the rebels were not justified in taking the lives of people with such wanton viciousness and savagery.

If they can do it against a respected Manobo leader and a middle-aged villager, what is preventing them from terrorizing other members from the community?

The national spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), lawyer Marlon P. Bosantog, was appalled at the perpetration of the murders, saying it showed “lack of humanity and compassion in this most trying time.”

“The gall to kill at a moment when all of humanity is facing grave uncertainty shows the NPA had irreversibly trespassed and crossed the line from being rebels and brigands to plain scourge and anarchists,” Bosantog said in a statement.

This statement, we submit, speaks for itself. It also speaks for all sectors determined to see an end to unnecessary loss of lives and to wiping out the roots of the persistence of the insurgency in the first place.