A Mangyan soldier was killed, while four other members of the indigenous community in Occidental Mindoro were reported missing, the Philippine Army reported on Thursday.
Private Mayuay Onaw, a member of the Tau-Buhid tribe and of the 4th Infantry “Scorpion” Battalion, was fatally shot by alleged members of the New People’s Army in San Jose.
Onaw was on his way home after buying construction materials in a nearby village with his two children and four other locals when they were ambushed by eight fully-armed communist rebels on April 25.
According to the Army, the NPA held and blindfolded four of the victims, including Onaw, while the others managed to escape.
“It was later reported that his two children and another victim were released, however, Pvt Onaw was murdered with his body dumped at the location of the shooting incident,” said Major General Roberto S. Capulong, commander of the 2nd Infantry Division.
The Army described Onaw as a helpful member of the Tau-Buhid tribe in the community and had made significant contributions to maintaining security and peace in the area, particularly in helping his fellow tribespeople.
This came following a series of abductions purportedly conducted by members of the NPA in the province.
Ruffy Avila, a member of Cafgu Active Auxiliary, along with two civilians named Solomon Puroginto and Jolas Avila, have been reported missing since January 26. The three were hunting in Sitio Balan in Barangay Ligaya, Sablayan Occidental Mindoro when they disappeared.
They are members of Tau Buhid indigenous group in Sitio Pusog, Barangay Brigada in the same town.
The disappearances of CAAs and civilians in Mindoro are suspected to be linked to the NPA’s latest strategy called “Oplan Paglilinis-Base Hatol Pamamarusa.” The strategy aims to sow fear and disorder within communities, the Army said.
“These cowardly attacks on our troops who were only doing community peace and development work are not just an attack on the military but on the peace-loving IP communities,” Capulong saidl
He gave assurance to the families that the Army will continue to offer aid and ensure that justice is served for the victims.
Capulong also called on the Commission on Human Rights and other human rights advocacy groups to investigate the NPA’s alleged atrocities.