Soldier, Cafgu man slain as tribal tension heats up

Edwin Espejo
An army and a government militiaman are killed in Kibalwan, Davao del Sur amid rising tribal tension

SLAIN LEADER. Relatives led by fourth wife Kitkit (middle in striped red blouse), carry the coffins of Blaan leader Anting Freay and his son Victor to the top of a hill in Tamapkan, South Cotabato where Freay was buried last September 1. Photo by Edwin Espejo

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – An Army soldier and a government militiaman were killed in an ambush Friday morning, September 13, in the tension-filled Kimlawis village of Kiblawan in Davao del Sur, the military here said.

Capt. William Alfred Rodriguez, spokesman of the Philippine Army’s 1002nd Brigade, confirmed the ambush but did not name the victims.

A text message from an informant said the ambush occurred in Bongkitot in Bongmal, a sub-village in Kimlawis where respected Blaan elder Anting Freay and his son were allegedly killed by government soldiers and militiamen on August 23.

Capt. Rodriguez said the slain soldier and militiaman came from nearby Kiamo detachment of the Philippine Army on the eastern side of Kimlawis when they were ambushed by heavily armed Blaan tribesmen.

“The victims were brought to [the] hospital in Kiblawan but they died while on their way,” Rodriguez added.

The Army spokesman declined to comment when asked if the ambushed was in retaliation for the killing of Freay last month.

Freay and his son were killed in an alleged encounter by combined elements of the 39th and 72nd Infantry Battalion and element of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in the western side sub-village of Datal Alyong, also in Bong Mal, Kimlawis.

Villagers have fled Datal Alyong following the slaying of Freay and have demanded justice for the slain tribal leader.

Some relatives of Freay also vowed revenge for the Blaan tribal elder and his son.

Felipe, younger brother of Anting, said they fear a pangayaw (tribal war) could erupt between and among the tribe as they suspect some Blaan CAFGU members were among those who killed his brother.

The slain Freay was also brother-in-law of fugitive tribal leader Daguil Capion whose wife and two sons were likewise killed in a raid by government soldiers in Datal Alyong in October last year.

Daguil has been blamed in the several past ambush-slayings of security guards and drill contractors of Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI). Several warrants of arrest have been issued against him and his group.

He has since joined the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA).

Daguil is now said to be leading an all-Blaan NPA unit. 

He has not claimed responsibility for the Friday morning ambush although a Bongmal resident interviewed during the burial of Freay last week said Daguil and his group are in the area.

Blaan residents in Bong Mal have been demanding the pullout of both army detachments in Datal Alyong and Kiamo as intra-tribe violence has shattered the peace in Bong Mal, said to be the last village in the tri-boundaries of Kiblawan in Davao del Sur, Tampakan, South Cotabato and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat where all residents are Blaans.

Bong Mal, pronounced bong mel, is named after the tarsiers that abound the mountainous village.

It serves as a buffer zone for the mining operations of SMI and is the last Kiblawan sub-village that provides access to the Tampakan side of the company’s mining operations. – Rappler.com