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Ata Manobo tribe seeks NBI, PNP help to locate remains of most revered woman elder

Updated: Mar 12

March 12, 2024

The Ata Manobos, a tribe of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, on Tuesday (March 12, 2024) have sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine National Police (PNP) to locate the remains of their most revered elder Bae Bibyaon Bigkay believed to be buried somewhere in Antipolo City, Rizal by her handlers after her death.

Speaking before a virtual press conference organized by the Integrated Communications Operations Center (ICOC), the media bureau of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Datu Bawan Jake Lanes, Executive Director of Mindanao IP Council of Elders (MIPCEL) together with other IP elders and relatives of Bibyaon said they just learned about her death last year (2023) through a Facebook post.

Other than the NBI and PNP, Lanes said that they will also seek assistance from other agencies such as the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to investigate the whereabouts or circumstances surrounding the burial of Bigkay.

“Tama po ‘yon, through DOJ at after po nung CHR, ito po yung iniisip namin yung mga investigating agency o security sector natin na pwede makatulong like the NBI, the PNP para po maimbestigahan kung saan talaga nila ito inilibing”, Lanes said.

“Sana matulungan kami sa paghahanap namin ng katarungan sa bangkay, sana matulungan kami. Yung nga ang problema ng pamilya talaga kaya sila dumulog sa Mindanao IP Council of Elders (MIPCEL) at sa CHR dahil nga po inilibing si Bae Bibyaon na malayo sa kanila at hindi din po siya ipinakita nung buhay pa siya,” he added.

Lanes said they are exploring legal remedies against said responsible groups with the help of the CHR.

Datu Benito Bigkay, nephew of Bae Bibyaon mentioned that they are now here in Manila to ask help in determining the burial site of their elder.

“Kami po ay nananawagan kay Vice President Sara na sana makauwi si Bae Bibyaon kahit yung mga buto na lang po,” he said.

He also pleaded to Vice President Sara, urging her to help them return Bigkay, even if it's just the remains or bones.

Rurelyn Bay-ao, Bae Bibyaon’s niece, told the media that they had been appealing to the handlers to disclose the location of the burial site so the family could bring her home, but to no avail.

Bay-ao, a former communist terrorist group (CTG) supporter, recalled she was her aunt’s constant buddy since 2014 at the Bakwit School in Davao City, Bakwit School at UP Diliman, and the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya. She said she served as the elder’s translator in all the activities organized by communist front organizations (CFOs) for fund-raising.

Her handlers' promise to study and finish a course at UP was never realized.

“May naitulong po ba yung Save Our School Network (SOSN) o yung mga nasa kabila sa amin noon? Ang katunayan po ay wala bagkos po nagdala ng malaking problema sa aming kultura at sa aming komunidad at tribo kaya po kami nandito kasi isa na po si Bae Bibyaon sa kanilang pinagsamantalahan at ginamit”, Bay-ao said.

Bay-ao conveyed that instead of help, these entities caused significant problems within their culture, community, and tribe.

Meanwhile, Mindanao IP Youth Organization (MIPYO) spokesperson Bae Anna Jessamae Crisostomo has cautioned her fellow IP youth not to fall prey to the deception and manipulations of the CTGs.

“Huwag po ninyong sirain yung gain na ginawa ng NTF-ELCAC, sila po ang nagbigay sa amin ng pag-asa upang makita po namin ang tunay na liwanag po sa dilim at madugo naming karanasan sa aming ancestral domain sa kamay ng CPP-NPA -NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front)”, she said.


Ref: Joel M. Sy Egco



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