BY LEANDER C. DOMINGO
BAMBANG, Nueva Vizcaya: Guided by customary laws and tradition, a tribal court has started hearing complaints filed by the Army over the May 9 ambush-slay of its two soldiers who were reportedly escorting elections materials in Kalinga province.
Reports indicated that the ambush was perpetrated by communist guerrillas which also resulted in the wounding of at least six men from the Kalinga-based Army’s 17th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Army’s 5th Infantry Divison (5ID).
Chaired by Mayor Ferdinand Tubban of Tabuk City, capital of Kalinga, the Matagoan Bodong Consultative Council (MBCC) is acting on the complaints filed by the Army’s 5ID having jurisdiction over 17th IB troops.
In its complaint, the Isabela-based 5th ID said the troops were merely assisting police and elections personnel in the transport of election materials in various parts of Kalinga when a group of armed men fired at them upon reaching Tabuk’s Dupag village.
Col. Loreto Magundayao, chief of the division’s civil-military operations battalion, said the incident led to the killing of their two colleagues in action and six others wounded.
Hoping to unmask who the perpetrators are and their supporters behind the ambush incident, the MBCC convened at the Tabuk City Hall on Tuesday.
If found guilty, the MBCC said, the perpetrators will be meted with punishment in accordance with their tradition.
Considering the tribal affiliations of one of the slain soldiers and another wounded who hail from Lubuagan, Kalinga and Tanudan town respectively, the MBCC said both deserve equal opportunity to obtain justice.
“Here, I assure that customary laws and tradition, especially respect of human rights and tribal rights, apply to all parties concerned,” Tubban said.
However, Tubban said that in the spirit of unity and peace, despite of what has transpired, “all parties are encouraged to open for negotia-tions, especially if the perpetrators of the crime and their supporters decide to go back to the mainstream society.”