AFP: Ex-NPA members say Chad Booc was an NPA rebel
By Cathrine Gonzales / Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — Former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who have surrendered to the government have testified that Chad Booc, a volunteer “lumad” (indigenous people) teacher, was a member of the communist armed group, the spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Tuesday.
“We would like to put into light also several other witnesses who have surrendered to the government and identified Chad Booc as a member of the New People’s Army, and he was seen last 2010 with CPP leaders in the area so what does that tell you? That he is part of the New People’s Army,” AFP spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel’s Rundown.
Asked about the statement of the NPA denying that Booc was their member, Zagala said: “We would believe members of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) who have testified and already said, given their affidavits, that he is (an NPA member).”
“His presence last December 21 in Barangay Tagbaros with Leo Lacumbo who is a member of the NPA further solidifies that. What are you doing with Lacumbo who is a member of the New People’s Army?” he added.
Zagala said that Booc was even known as Ka Tibay in the NPA.
“In the next few days, the 10th Infantry Division will come out with new surrenderees linking him to the organization,” he added.
Booc, fellow lumad teacher Gelejurain Ngujo II, health worker Elgyn Balonga, and drivers Roberto Aragon and Tirso Añar were killed during an alleged encounter between Army soldiers and a group of NPA rebels in Barangay Andap, New Bataan, Davao de Oro on February 24.
Some groups condemned the killings, saying Booc and his companions were unarmed.
Jennah, one of Booc’s eldest siblings, also called the killing a “brutal massacre.”
“I’m 100-percent sure that my brother doesn’t even know how to hold a gun, knowing Chad, knowing him,” she said in a Zoom interview with the Inquirer.
“It’s not being biased. I will not defend someone if they are wrong, even if they are my family or relative. This time, I am defending him because I know the truth,” she also said.
“He deserves justice, after all the good that he did for the lumad people,” added Jennah.
Zagala, meanwhile, said the AFP is open to any investigation regarding the incident.
“We are open to any investigation, we are open to any inquiry. What is important is that the truth comes out, and for us, the truth is Chad Booc died in an encounter. So if an investigation or inquiry will further solidify that he died in an encounter, we are open to it,” he said.