From InterAksyon (Sep 2): AFP, PNP probe spate of Lumad killings
Lumad leaders at UCCP Haran. PHOTO FROM DAVAOTODAY
Amid allegations by human rights groups that the spate of killings were perpetrated by the military using para-military groups, the military and police are investigating the latest murders of Lumads suspected to be sympathizers or supporters of communist rebels in Eastern Mindanao.
Colonel Isidro Purisima, commander of the 402nd Infantry Brigade, said his command and the police are looking into the killings to identify the perpetrators and arrest them.
“We have immediately sent troops to closely coordinate and assist the [police] on the conduct of investigation regarding the burning and killing incident. We shall not let these criminals roam around and threaten the peace-loving people of Surigao del Sur. We will let them face the crimes they’ve committed,” Purisima said.
For its part, the human rights group Karapatan said the killings are reminiscent of the Arroyo administration’s military offensive against rebels "when it was reeling from its isolation from the people and at the same time in a scurry to beat the deadline of its counterinsurgency program.”
“Killings continue to go up," said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay when she received an initial report on the killing of three persons in Surigao del Sur September 1.
"And, just like the Arroyo administration, [President] Aquino is expected to cover up these crimes and avoid this issue like it has not happened at all," Palabay said.
The bloody attacks against the Lumad tribe have earned condemnations from different human rights and church groups who are now calling for a congressional investigation.
“We call on all peace-loving Filipinos and the international community to press for the immediate dismantling of paramilitary groups involved in this dirty war against the Filipino people," Palabay said.
She was referring to the cases of Emerito Samarca, executive director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV); Dionel Campos, chairperson of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU); and his cousin, Bello Sinzo, all residents in Lianga, Surigao del Sur who were murdered reportedly by members of the para-military Magahat/Bagani Force.
Palabay alleged that the para-military groups were organized and are being used by the 36th Infantry Battalion to terrorize Lumad communities in Lianga.
She said Samarca was found dead on September 1 with a stab wound inside one of the classrooms in the school compound in Barangay Han-ayan. Campos and Sinzo were murdered in Km. 16, some three kilometers from Han-ayan.
“The [cousins] were shot by members of the Magahat/Bagani force in the presence of their community members in Km. 16. Two days prior to the killing, the Magahat/Bagani Force and elements of the 36th IB encamped at the Alcadev school compound and occupied the function hall and parts of the school grounds. During the encampment, the Magahat group threatened the school's faculty members, staff and community members that they will massacre the community if the people will not leave in two days,” Palabay said.
The Karapatan head identified the alleged murderers of Campos and Sinzo as brothers Loloy and Bobby Tejero of the Magahat/Bagani Force.
But according to Purisima, citing the only information his office has so far, the perpetrators were among a group of about 20 unidentified bonnet-wearing armed men who burned two cooperative stores and killed three civilians.
To which, Palabay said: “The Bagani paramilitary and the 36th IB have long been accusing self-help Lumad school ALCADEV as an NPA school, killing the teachers and organizers in the community, and consequently depriving the Lumad of their education.”
She said that the Magahat group was also involved in the killing of brothers Crisanto and Ely Tagobol on August 28 in Barangay Siagao, San Miguel, Agusan del Sur.