Farmers say slain Tumandok IPs are not Red supporters

Published January 5, 2021, 2:33 PM

by Raymund Antonio

A farmers’ group on Tuesday called as baseless the accusations against the Tumandok indigenous people who were killed for supposedly being fronts for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in a statement said that the military’s red-tagging of activists and indigenous groups led to the killing of the nine Tumandoks last Dec. 30 on Panay Island.

“The families and relatives of the victims attest that the nine Tumandoks killed were unarmed civilians. Most of them are respected IP leaders and members of local village councils,” KMP chair Danilo Ramos said.

“They are Tumandok farmers earning their keep and defending their ancestral lands. Police and military have been long using red tagging as a license to kill innocent civilians,” he added.

The group noted that the nine Tumandok victims “were unjustly red-tagged” as members of Milisyang Bayan and supporters of the CPP-NPA.

KMP identified drug personality turned NTF-ELCAC asset Jeff Celiz as the one who claimed that Tumanduk, the local organization of the IPP tribe in Panay region, and KMP are CPP fronts.

“Such claim is baseless and dangerous as it led to the carnage in Capiz,” Ramos said.

While authorities claimed their legitimate operations were against the so-called NPA’s “high-value personalities,” the KMP cited the victims were civilians who did not own or carry any firearms. “The evidence — firearms and ammunition — reportedly recovered were all fabricated.”

The group claimed that the Dec. 30 incidents “severely endangered the entire communities and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate.”

Initial reports showed that the search warrants used in the simultaneous raids in Tapaz, Capiz and Calinog, Iloilo were issued by different courts in Metro Manila, particularly Manila Regional Trial Court Judges Jose Lorenzo Dela Rosa and Carolina Icasiano-Sison.

“We demand accountability for the Tumandok massacre, the latest in the string of massacres and mass killing of peasants under the Duterte regime,” the statement said.