Friday, February 12, 2016

Reds admit killing of security chief in N. Cotabato

From the Website of INQUIRER

Reds admit killing of security chief in N. Cotabato

KIDAPAWAN CITY—Communist rebels on Tuesday said they were behind the killing of the provincial security chief of North Cotabato province, accusing him of involvement in killings, including that of Italian missionary priest Fausto Tentorio, and other atrocities.

Bernabe “Bantito” Abanilla, along with his bodyguard, identified as Jerson Semillano, was on his way to church in Arakan town on Sunday when three gunmen attacked them. Churchgoers and villagers rushed them to nearby Antipas Medical Specialist Center but they died from multiple bullet wounds in the head and body.

The Diocese of Kidapawan denounced the killings, calling it a spectacular display of inhuman violence. “The Church also condemns this as a violation of the right to worship, right to life of unarmed men, and right to pray undisturbed,” said Msgr. Carlito Garcia, the diocesan administrator.

Italian priest’s murder

In a statement, the spokesperson of the New People’s Army (NPA) Mount Apo Sub-Regional Command, said Abanilla had ties to the military-backed Bagani group, headed by Datu Mansandong and Commander Iring, which is active in “lumad” (indigenous) communities.

He was also involved in the murders of Tentorio in 2011 and an Ateneo student, identified as Benjaline Hernandez, in 2002.

The Italian priest was killed while working among the indigenous people of Arakan. On the other hand, Hernandez died in what the military reported as an encounter between government troops and members of the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The NPA plotted to kill Abanilla in 2001 for his alleged involvement in lumad killings, but it failed in carrying out the mission, said its spokesperson, who was identified in the rebel statement as Isabel Santiago.
“After the killings, Abanilla swore before the revolutionary movement that he would cut his connection with Commander Iring and would not do any action against the revolutionary forces and the residents in Arakan,” Santiago said.

But she said the security officer failed to keep his promise and “had been attacking revolutionary mass organizations from 2005 until he was killed.” He had connived with Commander Iring to murder Tentorio, she added.

Lawmaker’s denial

The rebel leader accused Abanilla of working with North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco (second district), and arming the indigenous people of Arakan against the NPA. Catamco, in a statement, denied the charge, saying she and Abanilla had differing views and aspirations for the lumad.

Catamco said she wanted to empower the lumad to assert their rights to ancestral domain and self-determination but not to arm them to fight the insurgents. She said Abanilla might have supported her in the 2010 elections, but they parted ways in 2013 when he backed another candidate.

Monsignor Garcia said Abanilla’s killers belonged to a well-organized and well-trained group. “If they claim that they were implementing revolutionary justice, they should realize that most decent people cannot condone this, maybe only the fanatics among hardened criminals can do.”

He rallied the people of North Cotabato to work together to put a stop to “the vicious cycle of violence and to unite in order to uproot the root causes of conflict.” He prayed for the victims and their respective families “and for all who were traumatized by this crime or other similar crimes.” Williamor A. Magbanua, Inquirer Mindanao