ZAMBOANGA CITY: A teenager belonging to Lumad tribal community was shot dead allegedly by pro-government militias whose group has been linked by human rights workers to the spate of attacks on tribal groups in Davao del Norte, the non-governmental organization Save Our Schools (SOS) said on Monday.
It said members of the Alamara paramilitary group attacked Alibando Tingkas, 15, of Palma Gil village in Talaingod town, Davao del Norte.
Two of Tingkas’ companions managed to flee and reported the weekend attack to tribal leaders.
SOS, which condemned the killing, said Tingkas, a grade three pupil of Salugpongan Elementary School, was headed home when the gunman attacked him.
Tingkas is the 29th child victim of extrajudicial killing in the region.
In November last year—Datu Manliro Landahay—a council member of Salugpongan Lumad Organization in Talaingod, was also killed by the Alamara.
“We are enraged and saddened by this incident. The paramilitary group and their military cohorts will not stop from attacking and even killing lumad in the name of their counter-insurgency operations, even children are not spared anymore” said Rius Valle, spokesperson of the SOS Network in Southern Mindanao.
He said witnesses to the attack tagged the Alamara as behind the killing. The body of Tingkas was recovered by the villagers, according to Valle.
The NGO, through Valle expressed fear that the militias would launch more attacks against indigenous people who are not supporting the government’s anti-insurgency operations in the South.
Valle said teachers of Salugpongan Elementary School are also receiving death threats after militias accused them as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
He said militias in September last year also brutally killed a school principal and two tribal leaders in Lianga town in Surigao del Sur province.
“SOS will be conducting further investigation of this matter. We urge the local government of Talaingod to investigate and apprehend those responsible in the killing of the teenager, and for the national leadership to take heed lest things go out of hand and they will also suffer the consequences,” Valle said, adding, “we are now focusing our efforts to secure the victim’s family, the witnesses and the teachers at the Salugpongan school.”
The NGO said Alamara has been committing violence against villages of indigenous peoples in the provinces of Bukidnon and Davao del Norte since 2014. They particularly harassed students in schools run by religious and nongovernmental groups, accusing that the schools are being used to indoctrinate tribal children with communist ideology.
There was no immediate statement from the military and police on the murder of Tingkas, but security officials had previously denied funding or supporting militia groups in the region, and blamed the attacks on tribal war.