DAVAO CITY -- Four tribal leaders from Barangay Dagohoy, Talaingod, Davao del Norte were abducted by alleged members of the New People's Army (NPA) last August 1, the Philippine Army said Saturday.
In a statement, Col. Eduardo Gubat, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said members of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee of the NPA abducted Datu Danilo Angcomog, Datu Laris Landakay, Datu Jovanie Angcomog, and Datu Kalumpot Dalon.
The victims reporetedly went to the said barangay to settle a "maghat" or tribal case regarding a certain "Sapunan Baylohanon Case".
Gubat said the tribal leaders were also witnesses in a human trafficking incident involving legal front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People's Army- National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), which resulted in the death of Datu Lito "Lolong" Lundia inside the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran compound in Davao City.
The victims were residents of San Fernando, Bukidnon.
Barangay Chairman Jose Baon and sitio leader Nanding Dungutan Angcomog already reported the incident to the municipal police station. Soldiers from the 68th Infantry Battalion are currently providing assistance to local officials.
The villagers condemned the kidnapping, saying they are already fed up with the abuses and harassment of the NPA in their area.
"Obviously, this is obstruction of justice. The lives of our witnesses are in danger as NPA kidnappers want to twist the facts to their favor," a tribal leader said.
The Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) and tribal chieftains of the said town held an emergency meeting for the safe release of the victims.
Lt. Col. Vicente Edgardo De Ocampo, commander of the 68th Infantry Battalion, said they will help local officials find the victims as well as in the filing of criminal charges against the kidnappers.