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Rebels kidnap, kill Mangyan tribal leader

 MANILA, Philippines - A Mangyan tribal leader who actively supported development projects in his community was kidnapped and killed by suspected communist rebels last week in Oriental Mindoro.

1st Lt. Melchor Durante, spokesman of the Army’s 4th battalion, said the victim identified as Ariston Mameng, was shot to death by 10 armed men last July 20 in Bulalacao town.

Citing the statements of Mameng’s family members, Durante said the armed men barged into the victim’s house at about 8 p.m. The armed men reportedly introduced themselves as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Durante said the armed men handcuffed and dragged the victim away from his house in Sitio Yunot in barangay Nasukob.

“The family witnessed this but they were frozen in fear. They are afraid that they might get hurt,” he said in Filipino.

About 10 minutes after Mameng was abducted, his family heard four gun shots believed to be from high-powered firearms.

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At about 5 a.m. the following day, Mameng’s wife Nelia and a companion went to a nearby river and found the victim’s corpse.

The victim sustained four bullet wounds on different parts of his body.

“The killing staged by the NPA rebels constitutes a violation of human rights,” Durante said, adding that Mameng’s death is a huge loss to the Mangyan community.

Mameng was head of the Mangyan Community Affairs and was described by the military as a dedicated and diligent community leader.

He helped facilitate a school building project that was supported by private groups including OB Montessori and ABS-CBN Foundation. The classroom is now benefiting about 370 Mangyan students in Sitio Yunot and nearby villages.

Mameng also pushed for numerous livelihood projects, electrification programs and the construction of a four kilometer access road that linked their village to other areas.

Durante said the 4th battalion is now working with Mameng’s family and the local government to run after those behind the killing.

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