Philippines: Violence escalates in mine area, 2 govt militiamen killed
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Philippines: Violence escalates in mine area, 2 govt militiamen killed

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Two government militiamen were slain Tuesday, February 12, when a group of armed men harassed their outpost and later ambushed a convoy of soldiers bringing down the slain body of a Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) member from the remote village of Bong Mal in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur Tuesday, a spokesman of the Philippine Army’s 1002nd Brigade here said.

Capt. William Rodriguez identified the slain militiamen as Arnel Remotigue and Reynaldo Templa.

Remotigue was slain by sniper fire Tuesday morning that allegedly came from the group of fugitive anti-mining tribal leader Daguil Cafeon, 1002nd Brigade commander Col. Marcos Flores Jr later told a local TV station here.

A team of soldiers transporting the dead body of Remotigue headed by Task Force Kitaco (Kiblawan-Tampakan-Columbio) Capt. Joel Wayagwag was also ambushed near Sitio Nabul in the same day resulting into the death of Templa.

Col. Flores described the incident unfortunate even as the military is now conducting hot pursuit operations against the perpetrators of the twin killings.

The military has warned residents against aiding lawless armed groups in the area.

“The incidents are indications of the strong presence of lawless armed groups who may have the access to communities around the area as their safe havens,” Capt. Rodriguez said in a statement sent to the local media here.

The fresh violence came just two weeks after Kitari Cafeon was also killed in a military raid also in Kimlawis, a village in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur where the main base camp of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) is located.

Kitari is the younger brother of Daguil Cafeon, a Blaan tribal leader who took up arms to protest alleged encroachment of their ancestral lands by SMI.

In October last year, Daguil’s pregnant wife and their two sons were also killed in a military raid.

Also last week, residents in the violence-prone village, most of them women and elderly, held a dialogue with the military in General Santos in the presence of Marble Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez.

They complained about the presence of the military in their community and said soldiers have been pointing the muzzles of their firearms against their women and children.

The bishop has repeatedly blamed the ongoing activities of SMI for the escalation of violence in quad-boundaries of Tampakan in South Cohabit, Kiblawan in Davao del Sur, Columbio in Sultan Kudarat and Malungon in Sarangani.

Col. Flores promised to look into their complaints but insisted that the military are there to protect villagers against lawless armed group, among them the Cafeon brothers.

He again aired his appeal for the armed group led by Cafeon to surrender and face the charges filed against them.

Cafeon and his band have admitted responsibility in killing of 3 drill contractors of SMI and at least 2 company guards during the last 2 years.

Cafeon, who often gives interviews to the local media here through mobile phone, has not issued any statement owning responsibility in the slaying of the two government militiamen.