IPMR and NPA critic, two others, slain in ambush
A TRIBAL leader who was very vocal against the New People’s Army was gunned down in an ambush in Sitio Mamprasanon, Barangay Banahao, Lianga, Surigao del Sur on Sunday, Oct. 4.
Meanwhile, his two companions were also killed and three others wounded in the attack.
The victim was identified as Hawudon Jumar Bucales, the Lianga Indigenous Peoples’ Mandatory Representative (IPMR), a staunch advocate of IP rights and a vocal critic of the front organizations of the NPA.
The two slain Civilian Active Auxilliary members were identified as Alberto Dela Peña and Artemio Muldez, while Ronald Acevedo, Ronald Bucales, and Oliver Rosaldo, a civilian, sustained injuries.
Maj. Rodulfo Cordero Jr., the spokesperson of 4th Infantry Division, said Bucales and his companions, were murdered by more or less 15 communist guerrillas.
The victims were on board three motorcycles after attending an IP dialogue in Barangay San Isidro when the lead vehicle noticed banana trucks blocking the road. They stopped to clear the obstacle and that was when they were ambushed. According to witnesses, they were still able to fight back but were overwhelmed by the number of enemies.
1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, the civil-military operations officer of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, confirmed that Datu Bucales and his companions were on there way home after an IP council meeting in the said barangay.
Datu Bucales and Dela Peña died on the spot, while Nuñez was still breathing when he was brought to the Lianga District Hospital. Unfortunately, he did not make it. The three wounded are now out of danger and continue to recuperate in the same hospital.
Bucales has long been a thorn on the side of the NPA as he worked with the military to win over the former communist strongholds. He has condemned the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu) for exploiting the IPs and destroying the culture and traditions of the tribe.
He also confronted the communist-linked IP schools, Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao Del Sur (TRIFPSS) and Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), which breed NPA cadres and terrorist fighters.
He crossed swords with Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Campos Cullamat, whom he accused of coddling TRIFFS and Alcadev while claiming to be representing the Lumads.
“Congresswoman Cullamat has not yet sponsored project for the Manobo tribe in Lianga, not even a school or farm-market road that will connect Manobo communities in Andap Valley to the market centers in the province of Surigao del Sur,” Bucales said in a previous interview with the Philippine News Agency in Marcy 2020.
The IP leaders in the area are urging Cullamat to engage with the legitimate tribal organization in Lianga, and not with the leaders of the leftist IP group, Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod, whose members are known to have direct links with the CPP-NPA.
Bucales’ leadership was instrumental in crafting tribal resolutions to close CNT-linked TRIFPSS and Alcadev, and in the establishment of the DepEd IP schools to provide quality education for their children. He also authored resolutions for the continuous development of the far-flung conflict-affected villages.
With his leadership, he anchored his efforts with the Whole-Of-Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in Lianga, which was strongly opposed by Cullamat, who is also a native of Lianga and brother of communist NPA leader, Pablito Sinzo Campos alias Batik.
Lianga tribal chieftain, Datu Constancio Duhac, and the whole IP community condemned the murder of their IPMR.
“We mourn for the death of our IPMR, Hawudon Jumar S. Bucales, and we condemn these NPA terrorists to include Mapasu. His death will not stop us from fighting for the rights of IPs. His death will not discourage us in fighting the NPAs, rather this will inspire and ignite us more to protect our tribe from them,” Duhac, said.
“Once again, we challenge Congresswoman Cullamat to take action and condemn the NPA terrorists because what happened is unacceptable. If she cannot do that, this will strongly prove that she is not supporting the genuine cause of the IPs but the cause of the NPA terrorists and the Communist Party of the Philippines whose ambition is to overthrow the government and gain political power through a bloody revolution, “ San Miguel IPMR, Rico Maca, said in his social media post.
Datu Bucales was also a former NPA leader who realized that he was only being exploited by the NPA by using their issues to agitate and recruit Lumads.
In his statement, Maj. Gen. Andres Centino, the 4th Infantry Division commander, said Bucales, Dela Peña, and CAAMuldez died while serving the people. “They were working hard to educate and empower the IPs in Lianga so that they will not be deceived by the communist NPA terrorists.”
“This incident only proves that CPP-NPA rebels are mere bandits and terrorists who continue to bring havoc to the IP communities, and killing IP leaders who are not supportive of their vicious cause,” He said.
Meanwhile, the IP Tribal Council of Lianga will file human rights violations and criminal cases against the NPA for violations of the International Humanitarian Law and the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
“We will assist the families of the victims in filing criminal cases for murder and violations of RA 9581 against the perpetrators and their leaders. We will ensure that those responsible for this barbaric act will pay,” Centino said.