Wednesday Sep, 30 2020 03:07:05 PM

Cotabato guv condemns murder of lady tribal leader

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES NEWS • 12:00 PM Mon Aug 24, 2020
Edwin O. Fernandez
The slain Manobo tribal leader 50-year-old Merlinda Ansabu Celis, (middle facing camera) of Barangay Mahongkog, Magpet, Cotabato province is seen in this file photo.(Photo from Lumadnong Panaghiusa Farmers Association of Magpet)

KIDAPAWAN CITY  – Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco today strongly condemn the murder of a lady leader of an Indigenous Peoples (IP) community in Magpet, North Cotabato on Sunday.

“This act may instill fear among our IP sisters and brothers whose only desire is to live in our ancestral domain according to our culture and tradition,” Gov. Catamco, a member of Manobo Dulangan tribe, said in A statement.

Merlin Ansabu Celis, 50, a resident of Sitio Tagaytay, Barangay Mahongkog, Magpet town was attacked by about four men while heading for her farm at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, the Magpet municipal police office said.

“I condemn this incident and it must stop as I speak, otherwise, it will continue to destroy civilians and IP lives,” she added.

Saying her heart bleeds with the family of slain IP woman, Catamco called on the police to dig deeper, saying: “No stone should be left unturned in ferreting out the truth behind this cowardly act.”

“Whoever had the evil mind to commit such crime against a helpless and defenseless woman should be brought before the bar of justice,” the visibly angry governor said.

She assured the victim’s family “the government will not abandon you” even as she urged the tribe to remain strong.

Police reports said Celis was walking with her daughter toward the farm when shot from behind by one of four men.  As she fell, another suspect finish her off using a machete.

Her daughter managed to run and sought help in nearby house.

Bae Leah Aurena-Labrador, provincial executive assistant on Indigenous Peoples in Cotabato province, has been strongly advocating for the preservation of IP culture and ancestral domain in Barangay Mahongkog in the face of continuous illegal logging activities in the village.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Soldiers from 72nd Infantry Battalion are now helping the Magpet locate the suspects.



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