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The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, a ecumenical church organization that serves the poor and fights for genuine agrarian reform, reports that Genesis Ambason, the secretary general of Tagdumahan, was shot and killed by a local CAFGU unit:
Genesis Ambason, the 23 year old secretary-general of grassroots indigenous organization Tagdumahan, was tortured and killed on September 13, 2012 (around 8pm) at Km. 39, Brgy. Binikalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur allegedly by CAFGUs (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit) of the 26th Infantry Battalion headed by Artemio Sublidan.
It was already dark when Ambason’s group arrived at about 200 meters away from Sitio Tambo, they decided to rest from their hike. Their resting spot was at a visible range from the 26th Infantry Battalion military detachment. After just a few moments, they noticed footsteps that were fast approaching their direction. This urged Ambason to shine his flashlight in the sound’s origin. However, gunshots were already fired at them just upon Ambason’s switching of the light. Thereafter, series of gunfire were directed at their group. Ambason’s companions immediately scampered in different directions while Ambason was left behind due to a gunshot wound.
On September 14, 2012 at around 6:00 am, Datu Amay, Brgy. Tambo’s tribal chieftain arrived at the place of incident. Datu Amay discovered Ambason’s dead body just 130 meters from the 26th Infantry Battalion military detachment. He then transported Ambason to Brgy. Tambo and placed him at the side of the road and covered him with tent. Datu Amay then notified the Brgy. Captain of Balit.
At around 4:30 pm of the same day, Necasio M. Precioso, Ambason’s uncle, was sent by the Brgy. Captain to attend to Ambason’s remains. At 10:30 pm, Almira Saguitan, Ambason’s 8-moth pregnant wife, received his body.
Almira wept while cleaning [her] husband’s body due to her discovery of the injuries he sustained from the incident. Two gunshot wounds at his right chest, another two gunshot wounds at his hip, two wounds at each side of his spine, and dark bruises at his face and chest. Almira was disturbed to discover that Ambason has lost all his teeth and his head has become soft, smaller, and unrecognizable. She suspects that his husband has been tortured. Almira also discovered that his husband’s beltbag containing the cash for purchasing gold was missing. The CAFGUs in the detachment have refused to return the item.
Almira expressed her outrage over the official pronouncements of the CAFGUs along with Artemio Sublidan of the 26th IB that the incident involving Ambason and his group was an armed encounter with elements of the New People’s Army. Later today, it was learned that the witnesses (those who were with Ambason when the shooting happened) have been charged with rebellion, and have scampered for their safety.
Tagdumahan has been campaigning against the entry of various large-scale mining ventures into their their ancestral domain. Ambason, as Tagdumahan’s Secretary General, reported to the regional indigenous peoples’ alliance, Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization, on its 4th General Assembly on December 2011 that their community organization has been resisting the Malampay Mining, Tambuli Mining and the Makilala Mining.
RMP-NMR believes that the latest attacks against Agbason are part of the historical and sustained suppression against Tagdumahan as an organization doing human rights work for the indigenous peoples of the town of San Luis in Agusan del Sur. Aladino ‘Datu Mansubaybay’ Badbaran was killed by a paramilitary group in the last quater of 2009. He was the chair of Tagdumahan before he was assassinated.