Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gunman kill anti-mining activist in Mindanao; military denies hand in murder

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 30, 2009) – An unidentified gunman killed a militant leader who opposed mining operations in the southern Philippines.

Ludinio Monson was shot in the town of Boston in Davao Oriental province on Wednesday afternoon and the military has quickly denied any involvement in the killing and condemned the attack.

Militant groups and leftist organizations have blamed the military for the murder of Monson, who led anti-mining protests and rallies in the past in Mindanao.

“The news linking the military to the killing is no surprise. It became the practice of militant groups to attribute the killing and use the issue in discrediting the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the government,” said Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu, a regional army commander.

He said Monson, chairman of the militant group called “Negkahiusa Koy Mag-uuma to Boston,” could have been killed by people he wronged in the past.

Mapagu said it is not the military policy to target innocent civilians in its campaign against communist insurgents. He ordered army commanders in the province to work closely with the police and cooperate with government agencies investigating the killing.

Lt. Col. Rolando Bautista, a spokesman for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, the accusations against the military linking soldiers to the murder was baseless.

“It is our best interest to seek the truth and find out the real culprits so that we can clear the name of the organization from the accusations of some individuals who maliciously link us to the crime even without any solid basis or evidence,” he said.

Militant groups have linked the military in extrajudicial killings of political activists and civilians suspected as supporters of the communist New People’s Army. 

Leftist organizations and human rights groups also implicated government soldiers in the abduction and brutal killing of Rebelyn Pitao, daughter of a senior NPA leader in Mindanao, Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago.

Pitao, 20, was abducted in Davao City on March 4 and her naked body was found the next day floating in a shallow creek in the village of San Isidro in Davao del Norte’s Carmen town. Her body bore torture marks and was believed raped before she was stabbed in the chest.

Pitao tagged 11 military agents as behind the murder of his daughter, a teacher by profession, who led a simple and quiet life with her family in Davao City. 

Communist rebels broke off peace talks with Manila in 2004 after the United States listed the communist groups as foreign terrorist organizations and froze their assets abroad on government's prodding. (Mindanao Examiner)

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