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Manero massacred 14 men in Davao in '77, survivor claims

- Allen Estabillo () - March 15, 2000 - 12:00am

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -The beleaguered priest-killer Norberto Manero is in for another legal problem after a man accused him and some companions of participation in the massacre of 14 persons in Davao about 23 years ago.

A man who claimed to have survived the massacre in Sarangani, Davao del Sur in 1977 surfaced yesterday and sought assistance for the prosecution of Manero.

Miro Cortez, 43, a member of the Sangil tribe, told newsmen that Manero, also known as Kumander Bucay, and his men sliced the ears of all 15 victims, hacked them, and piled their bodies "like copras" under a mango tree before leaving.

Cortez said that the heavily armed Manero and members of his paramilitary group arrived at their place in Batuganding, Sarangani Island, Davao del Sur, at around 5 p.m. on Oct. 5, 1977 purportedly to distribute relief goods.

He recalled that Manero gathered residents to the place and announced that they would be given rice, canned goods, dried fish and other food items.

He said Manero first asked the residents who among them were surnamed "Bagus" and "Cortez." He said that the 15 victims raised their hands, thinking that they would be the first to be given the goods.

Manero reportedly took the 15 to the barracks of the local paramilitary group, then ordered them hog-tied.

"One by one, the ears of the 15 were cut off," Cortez said in the vernacular.

Manero later reportedly led them to a nearby school compound where Manero and his men hacked all the victims. Cortez said he was personally hacked by Manero on his stomach and chest.

After the hacking session, Manero piled the bodies under a mango tree and left them.

"I acted dead. I tried to crawl away after I heard Manero telling his men that we would be cooked in their barracks," Cortez said.

He said he saw no reason for the massacre since they were plain fishermen and farmers, not members of the Muslim group "Blackshirts" as alleged by Manero.

After several weeks of hiding, he left for Indonesia where he stayed for more than five years.

He returned in 1983 to file multiple charges against Manero's men. He said he did not include Manero since he thought Manero was already dead, and no one in his village had information of the latter.

The charges, however, were later settled.

Cortez said he decided to show up when he heard that Manero is alive and is actually detained at the Sarangani provincial jail.

He appealed for help from authorities, saying he is still poor and can never raise enough money needed to pursue the charges against Manero.

Manero is in jail for the alleged abduction-murder of brothers Ali and Mambawatan Mamalumpong in Kinilis, Polomolok, South Cotabato, in November 1977, a month after the alleged Sarangani massacre.

Manero will be arraigned tomorrow at the sala of Regional Trial Court Judge Jaime Infante in Alabel, Sarangani, for the death of the Mamalumpongs.

CORTEZ DAVAO JAIME INFANTE KUMANDER BUCAY MAMBAWATAN MAMALUMPONG MANERO MIRO CORTEZ NORBERTO MANERO REGIONAL TRIAL COURT JUDGE SARANGANI
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