NPA fighter-turned-militiaman beheaded in Surigao del Sur – military
DAVAO CITY, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The body of a former communist guerilla was found headless on Monday, January 29, a day after he was abducted in a Surigao del Sur town, the military said.
Major General Ronald Villanueva, commander of the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, identified the victim as Mar Acevedo Bocales.
Bocales, according to Villanueva, was abducted on January 28 in Sitio Hagimitan, Barangay Bolhoon, San Miguel town in Surigao del Sur.
“The following day, his cadaver was found in the same area. His body was tied and showed that he had undergone torture before his head was cut off,” Villanueva said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the 36th Infantry Battalion said Bocales was part of the paramilitary organization helping troops in counter-insugency operations.
Previously, he had joined the ranks of the New People’s Army, but surrendered to authorities in December 2016,.
He was enrolled into the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program, and was later enlisted as a militiaman.
The military alleged that the NPA was behind Bocales’ brutal death.
NPA denies involvement
But the NPA in a January 31 statement denied such claim.
Ka Ariel Montero, NPA Regional Operational Command spokesperson, instead tagged a different armed group, Magahat, which he said was led by Emerson Cuarteron.
Magahat is a paramilitary group which the Human Rights Watch said in 2015 was implicated in an attack on a tribal school in Surigao del Sur province.
“They harass and extort from people earning a living from gold mining in Barangay Castillo and Bolhoon, San Miguel,” said Montero.
For years, the military had intensified its counter-insurgency operations in Surigao del Sur. In 2016, it deployed some 500 troops to fight communist guerillas.
In the same year, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Eastern Mindanao Command said the province would be insurgency-free by the end of 2016.
Indigenous peoples condemn attack
On Monday, February 5, the Army released a manifesto which it said was signed by ndigenous people's leaders, condemning the NPA for allegedly killing Bocales.
Bocales was a Manobo, a dominant tribe in the Surigao provinces, and was assigned at the Inagawan Outpost in Barangay La Purisima, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.
Renan Bocales, brother of the victim, said Mar went to his farm on January 27, and failed to return home after two days.
When Renan searched for his brother, he found him hogtied, his head was a few meters from him.
Captan Al Anthony Pueblas, Civil Military Operation’s Spokesperson of the 402nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, said that 100 lumad leaders signed the manifesto condemning that attack on Bocales. The manifesto was "signed by the Manobo, Mandaya and Mamanwa tribes, and youth sector,” he said. – with a report from Bobby Lagsa/Rappler.com
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