By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – A lumad rights group condemned the killing of Datu Kaylo Bontolan, a community leader who was shot during an encounter between government troops and communist rebels in Sitio Ngaran, Barangay Kipilas, Kitaotao in Bukidnon last Sunday.
Jong Monzon, secretary general of Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organization in Southern Mindanao, said on Thursday the lumad leaders of the Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon expressed grief over the death of Bontolan, a council member and deputy secretary general of Pasaka, the federation of Lumad in Southern Mindanao.
Monzon said Bontolan was checking on the condition of the Manobo evacuees, who fled their homes in Talaingod, Davao del Norte due to alleged military operations and bombings, when the firefight erupted.
“We mourn the death of Kaylo, who at his young age has sacrificed much for the defense of our ancestral land and the Lumad schools in Talaingod. He could have contributed more for the Lumad,” he said.
A photo released by the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) dated April 9 showed a slain NPA member in combat attire, bearing resemblance to Bontolan.
Monzon confirmed it was the slain datu.
EastMinCom spokesperson Lt. Col. Ezra L. Balagtey said the Army’s 3rd Infantry Battalion clashed with the communist guerillas at 9:50 a.m. after the NPA members fired at government forces, who were validating information on the presence of an armed group in the area.
Another clash erupted at 10:15 a.m., some 15 minutes later, and lasted for two hours, he said.
Monzon said, “our plight in Talaingod is comparable to ants being trampled and forced to scatter anywhere, because of Martial Law in Mindanao, where soldiers and the paramilitary Alamara have attacked us no end.”