WATCH | Sister of ‘Lake Sebu massacre’ victim calls for justice; daughter of missing man wants him back

January 9, 2018 - 10:06 PM
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In file photo, Adina Ambag, 48, seeks justice for the death of her brother, Datu Victor Danyan, in the alleged "Lake Sebu massacre". Photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon

MANILA – The sister of one of the victims in the alleged massacre of eight T’boli and Dulangan Manobo in Lake Sebu on December 3 is seeking justice for the atrocity, while the daughter of a man who went missing in the incident asked authorities to surface them.

The Makabayan bloc of lawmakers also sought an investigation into the matter.

Adina Ambag, 48, speaking in Visayan during a recent press conference in Quezon City organized by rights group Karapatan, said she and other members of the community saw the barangay captain with other barangay officials talk to her brother Datu Victor Danyan, at around 9:00 a.m. on December 3. At around 11:00 a.m., the barangay captain left, which was when Danyan’s sons spotted some people loitering around their fields. The sons checked to see who these people were, and never returned.

Gunshots followed, Ambag narrated. Danyan decided to see what happened to his sons and went to the fields as well. Ambag said she and others tried to stop him from going, but he refused.

Once he left, more gunshots were heard. One of their siblings went to the scene and found Danyan’s body, and brought it back home. Ambag said Danyan had bullet wounds on his head and stomach. They decided not to recover the bodies of Danyan’s sons. Others were killed while harvesting coffee and corn, Ambag said.

The community decided to flee immediately after.

“Kahit na namatay si Datu Victor, kami mabuti nabuhay kami (Even if Datu Victor died, we’re glad that we survived),” Ambag said, through a translator. “Kami ang nagpatuloy ng kanyang layunin ng panindigan ang aming lupang ninuno. Kaya nung pagka-alas kwatro ng hapon, kami ay lumikas kasama ang mga bata upang mailigtas namin sa kaguluhan nangyari doon sa amin (We will continue his advocacy to stand up for our ancestral land. Which is why at 4:00 p.m., we evacuated together with the children to protect ourselves from the conflict happening back home).”

She added, “Kaya panawagan namin na ang kamatayan ni Datu Victor dapat mabigyan ng hustisya, at saka ‘yung lupa namin maibalik sa amin para mamuhay kami nang marangal dito sa aming sariling lupain (This is why we call for justice for the death of Datu Victor, and we hope that our land will be returned to us so that we can live honestly in our own land).”

Watch the interview here:

Killed in the incident in Sitio Datal Bonglangon, Brgy. Ned were Danyan, his sons Victor, Jr. and Artemio, Pato Celardo, Samuel Angkoy, To Diamante, Bobot Lagase, and Mateng Bantal. Luben and Teteng Laod were wounded.

Six others went missing: Armando Barot, Jack Mayor Tataw, Berto Dudem Laud, Jeffrey Ambag Benan, Rudy Danyan, and Albelardo Wali.

During the press conference, Wali’s daughter Alwina asked authorities to surface her father and the others who had gone missing.

Meanwhile, Samuel Palembang, secretary general of Kahugpongan sa mga Lumad sa Halayong Habagatang Mindanao, said that most lumad leaders are being targeted, including himself.

In the case of Danyan, he was at the forefront of the battle against the “encroachment” of their ancestral land.

The Philippine News Agency reported Capt. Arvin John Encinas, speaking in behalf of the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division, as saying elements of the 33rd Infantry Battalion based in Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat “provided manpower support to elements of 27th IB that clashed with the NPAs (members of the New People’s Army)” on December 3 in Brgy. Ned.

“In the clash, seven communist rebels were killed and scores were wounded. Two soldiers from 27th IB were also killed,” the PNA report said.

Danyan’s sons were labeled as men who had “reinforced the NPA”.

The PNA quoted Sultan Kudarat police director Senior Supt. Raul Supiter as saying at least 1,000 families had been displaced due to “armed hostilities in Lake Sebu” and had fled toward Brgy. Sumilil, Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat.

Supiter added that the local police, led by Chief Inspector Gary Marfil, “extended emergency assistance to the affected families.”

Meanwhile, the Makabayan bloc filed House Resolution No. 1550 a week after the incident directing the Committee on Human Rights to conduct an inquiry into the killing.

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro; Gabriela Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas; Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate; Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao; and Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago said that the victims were “resisting against land-grabbing and displacement efforts of… DM Consunji, Inc. (DMCI),” which had “taken control of their ancestral lands that are productive and useful to the lumad communities of Sultan Kudarat.”