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PIA Press Release

Reds abduct, murder village leader; another escapes

by Cpt. Emmanuel R. Garcia

Camp Felix Apolinario, Panacan, Davao City (11 June) -- A village leader was abducted and later on murdered by New People's Army (NPA) death squad while another escaped the slay try in Sitio (sub-village) Mauno in the village of Maligaya in Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat province 11:00 PM Tuesday.

Village leader Kito Melody was abducted by NPAs belonging to Southern Alip Regional Terrorist Unit led by Manuel Fernandez alias Bobo who barged in his house while another village leader and former Cafgu Eldie Banawag was able to escape after witnessing the arrival of the armed group before they were able to enter his home. The NPAs reportedly came from the "Peace Zone" in nearby Tulunan town in North Cotabato province.

Melody's lifeless body was later found and recovered by elements of 27th Infantry Battalion (27IB) a few kilometers away in the boundary of Sitio Sinapulan and Sitio Mauno in the same village.

"The NPAs are targeting village and tribal leaders to terrorize the residents to make them withdraw their support from the peace and development efforts of the AFP and the Local Government Units," said Lt. Col. Joshua Santiago, commander of 27IB with operational jurisdiction over South Cotabato and parts of Sultan Kudarat.

Santiago also slammed the use of the Peace Zone by the terrorists. "The group led by Fernandez together Loida Magpatoc alias Gwen and Noel Legaspi alias Jefrrey came from the Peace Zone in Tulunan, North Cotabato. They have been using the peace zone as their haven to avoid arrest," Santiago said.

Maj. Gen. Carlos Holganza, commander of the Army's 10th Infantry Division deplored the newest atrocity of the communists as he vowed to bring the criminals to justice. "Our community leaders know what is best for their villages and they want peace and development to come in but these criminals are coercing the people. Such terrorism will not go unpunished for our people's sake. The true soldiers of the masses will bring these murderers to justice," Holganza said.

In December of 2009, Lumad leader Sendo Awing was killed by NPA terrorists in Columbio and later admitted it was a mistake. Greggy Awing, Sendo's son was also killed on the same day in the morning, several hours before his father was shot.

In 2009 alone, the NPA murdered 83 individuals in Southern Mindanao ; 52 of those they killed were innocent civilians.

This year, six innocent civilians including 13 year-old girl Memilyn Moreno of Boston town in Davao Oriental Province were killed in NPA terroristic attacks against communities, infrastructure projects and business establishments. Five people were killed and a dozen others were also wounded when NPAs ambushed election officials and soldiers in Maragusan town in Compostela Valley province a day after the election.

Last year, residents of Tampakan town in South Cotabato and of Columbio in Sultan Kudarat separately staged a peace rally and urged the NPA to halt its liquidation of civilians particularly village and tribal leaders.

Last March, officials of the adjacent province of South Cotabato led by Governor Daisy Fuentes, Koronadal Mayor Fernando Miguel and other local leaders joined residents in calling for a stop to armed struggle being waged by the NPA under the dictation of the Communist Party of the Philippines and protection of their legal fronts. (10th ID PA) [top]

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