DAVAO CITY: The Philippine National Police (PNP) has condemned the killing of a tribal leader and his companion on Wednesday afternoon in Panabo City and vowed to solve the case.
Regional Director Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan has also ordered the acting Provincial Director of the Davao del Norte Police Provincial Office Director Senior Supt. Ferdinand Sifuentes to create a Special Investigation Task Group to look into the killing and exert maximum effort to solve the case and file appropriate charges against the assailants.
Datu Ruben Labawan, a tribal leader known for his anti-communist stance, was killed while his companion died later in a hospital due to gunshot wounds during an afternoon ambush staged by armed men in Purok Talong, Barangay Gredu in Panabo City, Davao del Norte on Wednesday.
Panabo City Police chief Alvin Saguban reported that six armed men on board three motorcycles staged an ambush killing on the spot the leader of the Ata tribe in Paquibato District while his companion, Romeo Escosar of Purok Mangga in Barangay Gredu was injured but later declared dead on arrival at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City.
Saguban said Labawan came from a meeting called by the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) for tribal leaders from Davao region at the RJ3 Restaurant in Panabo.
The meeting was organized to discuss a priority project for the lumads called the Slope Agriculture Land Technology (SALT) of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, NCIP, TESDA and the Municipal Agrarian Reform Office.
Labawan has been actively supporting the Peace and Development Outreach Program or Oplan Bayanihan of the Philippine Army that has been opposed by the New People’s Army (NPA) and criticized by the progressive humanitarian advocates because it allegedly brings fear among the indigenous peoples in the hinterlands.
It was learned that Wednesday’s incident was the second attempt on Labawan’s life.