Sunday, September 6, 2015

Ka Roger's daughter ordered released

From InterAksyon (Sep 7): Ka Roger daughter ordered released

Andrea Rosal at her baby's wake. FILE PHOTO BY BERNARD TESTA

Former NPA spokesman Ka Roger Rosal’s daughter Andrea Rosal has been cleared of a murder charge and ordered released by a Quezon court, the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers said in a news release Monday.

Andrea Rosal was arrested March last year on charges of murder and kidnapping.

This morning, the court granted her motion to quash the false murder charge and issued a release order.

This followed a Pasig court’s similar dismissal of a kidnapping charge last year, her lawyer Maria Kristina Conti said.

Both cases were junked because no evidence linked her to the crimes, Conti said, adding that these were harassment suits.

NUPL lawyers and Karapatan para-legal are now working for her immediate release as no legal impediment exists anymore to hold her in police custody.

Andrea Rosal was eight months pregnant when arrested. She lost her baby daughter while in detention, in part due to government neglect and adverse jail conditions.

300 sailors from US ship to go on liberty call as USS Paul Hamilton gets resupply

From InterAksyon (Sep 7): 300 sailors from US ship to go on liberty call as USS Paul Hamilton gets resupply


USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), a multi-mission trip assigned to a destroyer, arrived here today for routine port resupply mission and liberty call, it was learned.

The ship is currently on its independent deployment to the Arabian Gulf and Western Pacific Ocean, the US embassy in Manila said in a news release.

The ship departed on its deployment in February and has been conducting “theater security cooperation operations, Maritime Presence operations and leadership engagements with partner nations.”

“The Paul Hamilton is not scheduled to conduct any exercises during its resupply in the Philippines; however, the crew of more than 300 sailors will have the opportunity to enjoy some well-deserved liberty and experience the great city of Manila,” the embassy said.

Paul Hamilton is a multi-mission ship designed to operate independently or with an associated strike group. The ship is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 21 and is home ported in Hawaii within the US 3rd Fleet area of operations.

GPH, MNLF, OIC meet to set agenda for Tripartite Review

From MindaNews (Sep 7): GPH, MNLF, OIC meet to set agenda for Tripartite Review

Representatives from the Philippine government (GPH), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will meet in Manila on Sept. 7 and 8 to set the agenda for next month’s Tripartite Review on the implementation of the 19-year old Final Peace Agreement (FPA).

Participants to the meeting include representatives of the various factions of the MNLF, the government and the OIC, including Sayed El-Masry, OIC Special Envoy for Peace in the Southern Philippines (PCSP).

Lawyer Randolph Parcasio, who will head the delegation of the MNLF under Nur Misuari in the meeting, told MindaNews Sunday that they will discuss the agenda of the “forthcoming ministerial level tripartite meeting,” which he said includes the implementation of the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund (BDAF) and Tripartite  Implementation Monitoring Committee (TIMC); and the implementation of the Co-management of Strategic Minerals.”
Parcasio said they would also discuss the resolution of the last three remaining issues in the Tripartite Review that began in late 2007 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, current issues and concerns in the joining and integration of MNLF Forces into the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines; and the venue and date of the forthcoming Ministerial Level Tripartite Review Meeting. Earlier he told MindaNews the meeting in Jeddah might be held next month.

The government and MNLF signed the FPA on September 2, 1996 providing for, among others, the strengthening of and expansion of the then four-province Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) – Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-tawi – and the integration of MNLF combatants into the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

In the 2001 plebiscite, Basilan and Marawi City voted for inclusion in the ARMM.
Last Tuesday, Sept. 1, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles met with representatives of the OIC’s Peace Committee of the Southern Philippines (PCSP) at the Department of Foreign Affairs office in Pasay City, where she reiterated her call for the completion of the Tripartite Review.

The 11-member PCSP was set up in 2006, on the 10th anniversary of the FPA, but the first meeting was held in Jeddah only in November 2007.

The PCSP is composed of Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Brunei Darussalam, Turkey, Pakistan, Libya, Senegal, Somalia, and Bangladesh.

In a press release dispatched by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on September 3, Deles said the Philippine government is “fully committed to an inclusive and comprehensive approach on the quest for a just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao,” as she challenged the OIC to “complete the review, otherwise, they will stay with the review process and will not implement anything.”

Single framework

She also expressed hope that the review process started in 2007 be put to a close before the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

“If we can accomplish the review process, we can proceed to the implementation of agreements achieved in the review through the mechanisms under the single framework which is the Bangsamoro and the backbone of the single framework is the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL),” Deles was quoted as saying in the OPAPP press release.

The BBL is the law that will entrench the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity under a parliamentary system of government that the GPH and MILF peace panels had agreed upon in the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

She assured the OIC that the “government, especially the leadership of both chambers of Congress, is fully committed (to) its passage.”

According to the press release, “Deles explained that the engagement of the government and the MNLF will continue through the 42 consensus points now included in the BBL, the participation of MNLF in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and Bangsamoro Government to be established and the inclusion of MNLF economic agenda in the Bangsamoro Development Plan.”

Parcasio said the Tripartite Review for the Implementation of the 1996 peace pact “yielded some positive results,” which he listed as: agreement on the establishment of the BDAF “to address  the socio-economic issues and needs of the Bangsamoro People;” agreement to establish the TIMC “which will be in charge of ensuring implementation of agreements reached during the tripartite review;” agreement on the co-management of strategic minerals where “the President of the Philippines and the ARMM will initially implement this by convening the Department of Energy and the ARMM Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the implementation of the mechanism of co-management of strategic minerals;” and agreement on the  46 Consensus Points to amend RA 9054.”

Parcasio said that the government has been saying that the 42 consensus points had been included in the proposed BBL under the GPH-MILF peace process but “there was never any consultation with the MNLF.”

“It is proper the  GPH will formally present to the Tripartite Review  its  position on this issue,” he said.

“On the last remaining issues of  a) territory/plebiscite, b)  definition and sharing of strategic minerals and c) transitional mechanism/provisional government, the Tripartite Review must chart the road map of resolving the issues,” Parcasio said.

Bangsamoro Coordination Forum

He acknowledged that while “it is highly possible that in the remaining nine months of the present administration of President Benigno Aquino III the issues will remain unresolved given the complications created by the other peace process—MILF-GPH-Malaysia Peace Track,  the matter should not be closed because it will likely give way to unproductive responses on the ground.”

But he added that the parties “may provide a way by which the unresolved issues will be addressed by succeeding Philippine administration.”
He said the joining and integration of the MNLF forces into the military and police “are confronted with some issues” and the Tripartite Review “must provide a channel by which these issues could be addressed and ventilated to avoid misunderstanding.”
Attending the Tripartite meeting in Manila are also represntatives of the MNLF under Muslimin Sema and representatives of other MNLF factions.

The OIC has brought the various factions of the MNLF and the MILF into the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) and in April this year, OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani met separately with leaders of the MNLF and MILF on April 18, Day 1 of his visit in Davao City, hosted a seaside dinner for both and the next day met them jointly to discuss, through the BCF, on how best to move forward in harmonizing the tracks of the peace agreements they signed separately with the Philippine government.

“We pushed for the reviving, reinvigorating of the Forum. We think it provides an excellent stage for all sides to communicate to express their views,” Madani told MindaNews after the four-hour closed door meeting with the two Fronts at the Seda Abreeza hotel here on April 19.

The MNLF and MILF representatives in the BCF met again in Kuwait in late May this year at the sidelines of the 42nd OIC Conference of Foreign Ministers.

Bomb explodes in front of Lamitan City police station

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 7): Bomb explodes in front of Lamitan City police station

ISABELA CITY, Basilan -- An improvised bomb exploded late Sunday in front of the police station in nearby Lamitan City, this province.

Supt. Oscar Nantez, provincial police director, disclosed the incident occurred around 9:10 p.m. Sunday in front of the police station in Barangay Matibay, Lamitan City.

However, Nantes said no one was killed or wounded during the explosion.

He said a thorough investigation is being conducted in a bid to unmask the identity of the suspects as well as to determine whether or not it was the handiwork of the Abu Sayyaf brigands.

Senior Insp. Gean Gallardo, Lamitan City police chief, has ordered his personnel to strengthen the security of the police station.

Warring Iranun clans sign covenant to end 40-year rido

From GMA News (Sep 6): Warring Iranun clans sign covenant to end 40-year rido

603rd INFANTRY BRIGADE CAMP, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao - Warring clans in the towns of Buldon and Barira ended 40 years of 'rido' at a meeting to settle disputes on Sunday

The clans of Malambut,Kudanding have made peace with the families of Madid, Cawi and Macauyag. The clans are from neighboring villages separated by just a few meters.

Hundreds — including clan members, local leaders, military, police and the media — came to the camp of the Army 603rd "Persuader" Infantry Brigade to witness the end of the conflict.

Swearing on the Quran to never again engage in violence or violate the truce, members of the clans hugged and asked each other for forgiveness after the signing of a peace covenant.

For the past four decades, these two clans had been wary of each other's movements, fearing that the other side might strike back avenge departed loved ones at any time.

In the long decades of fighting, eight people have been killed and another eight wounded in attacks.

Amerodin Malambut,66, came to the camp wearing dark eyeglasses and wa sguided by towards the negotiation area.

Malambut was blinded in a fierce firefight in Barangay Minabay with the rival clan in 1977. He survived the gun battle but two relatives were killed in the clash.

He said the feud started when he was still a young Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander. He said they initiated an attack after being harassed by armed men believed to be from the constabulary forces.

“It was a [case of] mistaken identity when we happened to kill their relatives, so that was the start, though we asked for forgiveness and offered blood money, it didn’t stop them [trying] to avenge their relatives and so the vicious cycle followed”, he said.

“[T]he consequence of it, our [livelihood] in the community was limited and restricted. We lost a lot of opportunities but now we are thankful there are people who took steps to end the conflict”, he said in the Iranun dialect.

For Ebrahim Cawi, “enough is enough”.

He said they were just forced to avenge the loss of his in-laws and other relatives, but the rido should not be passed to the next generation of their clan.

"It’s a gross picture of a Muslim existence in this world by killing other people... fighting with other clans who also have blood ties with you in Iranun lineage,” he said.

Roots of rido

Buldon Mayor Abolais Manalao blamed the proliferation of guns in Iranun communities, which could easily be used during simple misundertandings or  as only means to get justice or to reclaim Maratabat or honor. 

“I must admit, guns in Iranun towns are almost found in every household, it's part of their way of living, they acquired it even [during] the time of Martial Law, when they were bound to defend themselves ”, he said.

“No one wins in clan wars, all of the parties — including us in local government — and the welfare of the people are casualties here, so we must wake up and end this senseless vicious cycle,” Manalao stressed in his speech.

Manalao thanked the 603rd Infantry Brigade and USAID Engage for helping them come up with strategies to end the conflict between clans. He admitted ridos are the main obstacle to development in his hometown.

Col. Arnel Dela Vega, brigade commander, said the settlement reached on Sunday could motivate others involved in clan feuds to end their ridos.

“Your rido are only smalls conflict to the bigger conflict of the government panel and Moro Islamic Liberation Front are dealing with now, but they opened their hearts and minds to settle the differences on the table, so why [the] need to shed blood?” Dela Vega said.

Since the start of 603rd brigade’s campaign to bring peace and order to the area a year ago, 27 ridos or clan feuds have been settlled and several other may feuds may soon be ended as ground negotiators intensify efforts to convince people to put an end to clan wars.

Joint-Task Force Iranun

Crafted from the Public Safety and Order Plan during last years’ security meeting, the towns of Parang, Barira, Matanog and Buldon have created the Joint Task Force-Iranun (JTF-Iranun) to address peace-related matters, especially clan feuds and crime.

The group has gained technical support from USAID's Enhancing Governance Accountability and Engagement program for improved governance to build prosperity and stability in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

Under the program, the towns work with military, police, the MILF, councils of elders, civil society groups and non-government organizations to create mechanisms for peace.

Under JTF-Iranun, regular meetings are held quarterly and town mayors and the 603rd's brigade commander alternate being the chairperson and host.

“Usually, conflicts involving ridos are coming from [neighboring] towns, which, during the meetings, can be handled by easy coordination between town mayors,” said Clarissa Echavez-Rendon, the area coordinator of USAID-ENGAGE.

“Resources-wise, all of them can save and the relationship of Iranun mayors will be further strengthened together with security forces,” Rendon added.

There is development if there is peace

With a relatively better peace and order situation — and no recorded clashes between the government and the MILF — multimillion-dollar investments are coming in especially for banana, pineapple, coconut, and coffee production.

Mayor Mohammad “Kits” Guro of Matanog town said that due to persistent efforts to maintain the peace with the help of the 603rd brigade, even foreign investors have signified interest in investing in Iranun towns, where the fertile soil is ideal for planting high-value crops.

“In fact, we really don’t need to wait long for the [Bangsamoro Basic Law]... We just need to work it out with a peaceful community where internal conflicts are settled and cannot hamper economic activities,” Guro said.

Seeing the potential of vast and fertile land left untilled, the military has been working with local chief executives to bring economic gains to their respective towns.

Most of the Iranun people dwell in the huge and fertile land surrounding the former Camp Abubakar, now called Camp Iranun, in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao Del Sur and parts of North Cotabato.

Between the 1970s and 2000s, war was prevalent in these areas. But only one firefight involving government troops and the MILF has been monitored since 2003. That clash, which happened in 2005, was immediately patched up.

Militias, AFP spawn de facto Mindanao ML

From the Daily Tribune (Sep 6): Militias, AFP spawn de facto Mindanao ML

A virtual martial law (ML), which President Aquino may have been responsible for or at least tolerated, exists in Southern Mindanao as proven by the recent killings of indigenous Lumads, a militant lawmaker and human rights advocates, said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, at a media forum yesterday in Quezon City, said Aquino seems to ignore the situation where officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and certain paramilitary groups perpetuate militaristic fear on indigenous peoples (IPs).

Zarate has been looking into the cases of forced evacuations involving thousands of Lumads.

“President Aquino, whose family experienced the harshness of martial law, is careless regarding this phenomenon in Mindanao where IPs are victimized by a virtual martial law as they experience horrifying crimes, intimidations and threats from the AFP that backs paramilitary activities in a divide and conquer fashion,” Zarate said.

Among the cases Zarate cited is a “wreckless and inhumane” event where members of the community, including a 12 year old girl, witnessed actual killing before them.
Sheina Campos, the 12 year old girl who was present in the said media forum, togethee with five other individuals saw how paramilitary men shot to death her father Dionel Campos in Diatagon village in Lianga, Surigao del Sur on September 1.

Speaking in behalf of Sheina, who can roughly speak English or Tagalog plus the emotional trauma that bars her from sharing what she saw, was Eufemia Cullamat, a woman leader of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) and is a witness to the said killing.

“We were preparing to bury a deceased elder that morning. The day before (Sept. 1), a small number of soldiers who introduced themselves as members of the 75th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army asked us to cooperate for an investigation of which we respectfully declined because we were mourning then. They agreed and we thought that that was it. Little did we know that paramilitary men were already spying on us since midnight,” Cullamat said.

“Dionel and Jovillo Sinzo, another MAPSU leader, were staying at the house (of Josephine Pagalan). At around 4 a.m. soldiers and their paramilitary escorts went house to house and when they saw Dionel and Jovi they ordered them to sit at the foot of the stairs. They also grabbed Belen Itallo, who is crippled by polio since birth, near Dionel and Jovillo. They kicked her,” Cullamat narrated.

“The Armed men ordered them to sit beside each other while telling others who were there to ‘drop’. They shot Dionel, whose head was blown off, and Jovillo dead,” Cullamat said.

Cullamat identified brothers Bobby and Loloy Tejero, who were Lumads recruited by a paramilitary group allegedly “armed by the AFP” and are actually Campos’ relatives, as the shooters.

On the same morning, Emerito Samacara, Executive Director of the Lumad school Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), was also found dead in one of the classrooms in the said school compound. His throat was slit open from ear to ear.

Samacara’s death was also attributed to paramilitary groups accordingly backed by the military who allegedly provided arms.

According to rights group Karapatan, the military recruits Lumads into paramilitary units called Magahat, Bacani, and Marcos Bocales to “fuel brother-to-brother feuds” by giving them arms and cash.

“Paramilitary recruitment is not new. It was done during the martial law era in the guise of private armies of politicians. The same thing also happned during the regime of (President Cory Aquino) where paramilitaries appeared as fanatic vigilante groups,” he said.

Now, the paramilitary forces within the Lumad community are backed by the AFP through the influence, we believe, of mining companies,” Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay told the Daily Tribune.

Mining firms after Lumad lands

Mining companies, since 1994, have been expressing interest in investing on particular Lumad territories.

Meanwhile, Liberal Party (LP) ally Rep. Nancy Catamco, together with another group of Lumads in a separate media forum last Thursday, said that the Lumad evacuees which include Campos and the two other victims who are being hosted by ecumenical Christian churches are being “influenced and manipulated” by left-leaning groups linked to the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

The NPA, true enough on their website, claimed that the largest base of the Maoist insurgents are operating in the Northern and Southern Mindanao regions where the displaced Lumads originally came from.

Catamco even said that the evacuees are being “illegally detained” by suspected NPA fronts such as militant partylist groups Bayan Muna and Gabriela.

Zarate and Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan were invited in a dialog supposedly initiated by Catamco, to convince Lumads to leave the evacuation compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Davao City on July 23.

The Christian sect is also being tagged as a communist front.

In the dialogue that turned out to be a confrontation between the IPs and Catamco, the latter insulted the Lumads, as well as Zarate and Ilagan, by telling them that they stink.

Catamco, following the incident, was tagged by the Lumads as ‘persona non grata’.

The Bayan Muna solon, who defended the Lumads, is now facing charges of illegal detention.
Zarate, in an interview with the Tribune, said that despite the Lumad’s cultural negation of firearms, “some seek justice through options offered by the NPA”.

“We cannot actually blame them if they decide to take arms and join the NPA. The justice system itself is doubtful, you know. It actually turns out that the AFP has become recruiting agents of the NPA because of the conditions they engender and their anti-Lumad campaign,” Zarate said.

“In the end, its not just between the NPA and the AFP. The true victims here are the Lumads,” Zarate added.

Zarate told the Tribune that he is trying to look into the possibility that Catamco’s pork barrel funds - as she is recently cited in a pork-related case before the Ombudsman - might have benefitted certain paramilitary forces.

Paramilitary group in Surigao not part of AFP - official

From ABS-CBN (Sep 6): Paramilitary group in Surigao not part of AFP - official

An official from the Armed Forces of the Philippines reiterated that the armed group allegedly involved in crimes in Surigao del Sur is not connected to the military.

AFP Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad made the statement following the call of Surigao del Sur Governor Jonny Pimentel for the military to "disband and disarm" the Magahat/Bagani Force.

Pimentel said the Bagani forces are responsible for killing three civilians in Lianga, Surigao del Sur last week.

Aside from the recent incident, Pimentel also tagged the paramilitary group in similar incidents in the province over the past six years. He called on the army to disband and disarm the group, since the military helped in creating the group.

"It's not part of our command and control," said Baladad of the Magahat/Bagani Force. "What's part of our command and control is the CAFGU (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit). This is not a CAFGU. This (Mahagat/Bagani) is not sanctioned, this not under any law."

"But we will investigate if the claim of the government is true and if found true, then we will impose sanctions against our commanders or units. We have an ongoing internal investigation also regarding this matter," added Baladad.

The official said the Mahagat/Bagani Force is part of the indigenous political structure.

"All indigenous people here, if we look at it, every tribes have their own Bagani," the official said.

Bagani is the term of indigenous people for "tribal warrior."

Baladad assured that the military also wants to disband and disarm the group behind the atrocity, which resulted in the death of three civilians, including Emerito "Emok" Samarka, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development Cooperative.

"We will support that call (to disband and disarm the group)…We treat them as people who committed a criminal act so we have to run after them…We do not sanction them, we condemn the killing of the civilians there," said Baladad, adding that law enforcement operations are ongoing against the suspects.

He also said the PNP-led and military-supported law enforcement operation is meant to protect the community from any further atrocity by the group.

"We are pursuing these perpetrators for the crime they've done. We are are supporting the PNP in the conduct of the law enforcement operation. They have to be held accountable for their crime," Martnez also said.

Baladad also disclosed that at least 2,000 people have been displaced by the incident, mostly in the sitio in Barangay Diatagon where the burning and killing took place. He said the other evacuees are from the outlying areas.

MILF: Congress leaders assured deliberations on BBL would be finished this month: Sec. Deles

Posted to the MILF Website (Sep 6): Congress leaders assured deliberations on BBL would be finished this month: Sec. Deles

Congress leaders assured deliberations on BBL would be finished this month: Sec. Deles

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles, who was in Dipolog City, Zamboanga Del Norte last week as speaker of the 24th Mindanao Business Conference said that congress leaders assured that deliberations on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would be finished this month so it could be signed by October. 

Once the Bangsamoro Law is signed the plebiscite can be held before the start of the campaign period for presidential candidates.

 “I spoke with them and they said the target that it would be signed into law by mid October is possible,” she said.

Deles said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front insists that the measure remain compliant with the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro and Framework Agreement of the Bangsamoro.

 “They want the BBL to be substantive in terms of what the autonomy means,” she said.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano lll urged his colleagues in the House of Representatives to attend sessions so the chamber could tackle important pending bills, including the BBL.

“Let us cooperate with the House leadership in addressing the quorum problem. Let us show our constituents that we fulfill religiously our constitutional duties by diligently attending plenary sessions and committee hearings,” Albano said in a statement.

He said absenteeism has again reared its ugly head and prevented the House from moving the draft BBL and other important measures forward.

“I am hopeful that the suggestion of the Speaker and the majority leader to hold sessions from Monday through Friday will work, but the House will not be able to tackle its business without a quorum,” he said.

Albano added that he and his colleagues have to work overtime, since the first adjournment on Oct. 10 is fast approaching.

The House and the Senate will adjourn for the printing of the proposed P3-trillion 2016 national budget after the larger chamber approves it on second reading. A clean copy is required for the third and final reading approval.

They are adjourning also to enable those who are running in the May 9, 2016 elections to file their certificates of candidacy. 

The filing period for certificate of Candidacy is the second week of October.

Army general: AFP not behind militias tied to Lumad killings

From InterAksyon (Sep 6): Army general: AFP not behind militias tied to Lumad killings

Eastmincom chief Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad (L) is seen in file photo being welcomed by the then chief of the Army's 10th ID, Major Gen. Eduardo Año. The latter is now the Army chief.

The commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command denied Sunday that the military had organized the Magahat/Bagani Force tagged in the killing of leaders of indigenous groups (Lumad) suspected to be sympathizers of the New People’s Army in the CARAGA region.

“I deny that report na kami ang nag-organize niyan [that we were the ones who organized those],” Lieutenant General Aurelio Baladad said in a phone interview.

The Army general said they favor calls to disband paramilitary groups and will support the police’s law enforcement operations to stop what he called private armed groups from carrying out more crimes.

At the same time, however, he said State security forces must tread carefully in dealing with PAGs that are also members of Lumad communities. They cannot simply interfere in the Lumad’s culture and structure by dismantling their paramilitary groups, he explained.

“If we look at the Lumad, parte sa kanilang indigenous political structure, besides ‘yung Datu nila saka ‘yung kanilang Babaylan or spiritual leader is ‘yung Bagani. Lahat ng indigenous people dito, if we look at it, I have observed may Bagani silang sarili kada community, kada tribo. [If we look at the Lumad -  at part of their indigenous political structure, besides their Datu and Babaylan or spiritual leader is their Bagani. In all IPs here, I have observed that each community, each tribe, has a Bagani]. So, this is one Bagani group and they have committed the criminal offense, and are under police investigation,” Baladad explained.

He said the Army is ready to lend support to the police tasked to arrest the suspects involved in the spate of Lumad killings.

This despite claims by affected Lumad communities that the Magahat/Bagani Force were organized and were being used by the military to harass and even kill Lumad leaders and members believed to be coddling the NPA.

Some Lumad groups also claimed the paramilitary units got their high-powered firearms from the Army arsenal.

But again, Baladad vehemently denied this and said such militias may in fact “be part of private armed groups, dahil hindi naman ito [as they are not] sanctioned ng [by the] government.”

He said the suspected killer units are "not part of our command and control." What are in fact under their command and control, he said, are "the CAFGU (Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit).”

Baladad confirmed the evacuation of more than 2,000 Lumad from different places in Surigao provinces.

Progressives seek writ of amparo, habeas data over harassment cases

From the pro-CPP Online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Sep 5): Progressives seek writ of amparo, habeas data over harassment cases

Activists are fighting back against harassment from state forces, by using a remedy from the Supreme Court.

Activists against harassment

Activists hold a picket at the Supreme Court while their colleagues file a petition for a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) (Photo courtesy of Buhay Manggagawa)

Ten progressive activists from health, labor, migrant workers and youth groups filed a petition for a writ of amparo before the Supreme Court, seeking protection from the harassments, threats and surveillance perpetrated against them by suspected military agents.

In their petition filed on Sept. 3, activists asked the court to issue a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) not just for them, but also their families. They also asked the Supreme Court to issue a writ of habeas data, which would compel the respondents to divulge, and destroy all information they gathered which may be used against the respondents.

The petitioners are leaders and organizers of members and affiliate organizations of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), namely, the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), and Migrante International.

Named respondents were President Aquino, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Hernando Iriberri, AFP deputy commander for intelligence Maj. Gen. Virgilio Hernandez, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Brig. Gen. Arnold Quiapo, Philippine National Police chief Ricardo Marquez and PNP NCR chief Police Supt. Joel Pagdilao.

For the past months, progressives have assailed the harassment, threats, and surveillance, which intensified this year. In their petition, activists said respondents and their agents violated their rights to life, liberty and security.

The Writ of Amparo is a legal remedy for the protection of victims of human rights violations, including threats. This goes hand-in-hand with the writ of habeas data that may be sought for a person to release and even destroy personal information being held that threatens one’s life and security and violates the right to privacy.

Harassment of Aquino’s vocal critics

“In the instant case, the pattern is clear: Petitioners are harassed not for their individual actions, but for being members of militant organizations which are known to be vocal critics of the Aquino administration,” the petition read.

Petitioners observed a “pattern,” in which suspected state agents make threats through text messages, brand them as members of the underground movement and then urge them to “cooperate” with the military in “ambiguous” ways.


The progressives detailed the harassments by men suspected to be state security forces. In these harassments, even medical practitioners who are members of the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) were not spared. Last June, Dr. Darby Santiago, HEAD chairperson, received threats via text message. One read, “Isang bala ka lang. Ingat ka doc.”

Other text messages called Santiago “a doctor of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army in Northern Luzon.”

Imelda Gerali, of the Samahang Operasyong Sagip Inc. and also a member of HEAD, reported being hounded by suspected intelligence officers, who would wait for her at their office gate, and throw dagger looks at her.

Harassment of activists at homes, offices and public vehicles

The petitioners listed incidents of harassment at their offices and homes, and even in public vehicles. Suspected state agents would approach the activists in the guise of “offering help,” in exchange for quitting their work in their organization. The offer also came with a threat if they carry on with their activism.

Rebecca Abelong, a member of the Kilusang Mayo Uno national council, was approached by men who introduced themselves as members of “Guardian,” and asked information about her in their village office. The incident happened right after she attended a protest in front of the Chinese Embassy on July 7.

Another labor rights activist, Neil Ambion, KMU media liason, said two men who identified themselves as members of the National Bureau of Investigation blocked his way as he was going up the stairs to a train station. The two men attempted to force him to come with them to talk about his “security,” but eventually left when fellow passengers started to take notice.

Another KMU member Renato Asa, the labor group’s Public Information Department secretary, noticed a man sitting outside his house. Wary of the harassments against fellow activists, he asked the man if he is a soldier. The man admitted he is a soldier and offered “help” to Asa. He handed him a piece of paper with a cellphone number.

Two men who also introduced themselves as soldiers harassed Loreto Victoriano, an education and research staff of KMU.

It was also a soldier who harassed Josephine Carlos Betana, a member of Migrante International in Bagong Silang, Caloocan in September 2014. The man also offered “help” to Betana.

In February this year, a man attempted to enter the KMU office, claiming that he needed to hand a solicitation letter from village officials. KMU staff Maritess Garte verified from village officials that they were not asking for donations.

Suspected military agents also knocked on Kabataan Partylist’s office, looking for a certain “Ka Tonyo.”

In April, Garte experienced harassment from a man sporting a military hair cut while riding a jeepney.

Elaborate information-gathering, surveillance

It was a more elaborate case for youth activist Lovely Carbon, National Union of Students of the Philippines secretary general, who received messages from a certain Nelson Velasco who offered to give her a “part-time job” for Global Research and Management Center (GMRC). When they met at a fastfood chain in Quezon City, she was tasked to write reports on “current relevant issues” for a publication.

One of her first assignment was to write a report on President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). But when she submitted her report, she was asked to write more on the “planning part” and the “preparation” being made by protesters for the SONA. She was also tasked to write a report on the plans of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS) on the upcoming APEC summit in the country.

Later, Carbon learned through a fellow youth activist that Velasco and GMRC were involved in gathering information from student activists at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

Jessica Ferrera, the current student regent in PUP, also experienced harassment when her father was told by a man that he would help to have him hospitalized “if your daughter would help us.”

Petitioners said the pattern in these cases show that “their lives, security and liberty are under threat,” and that these were carried out under the government’s counterinsurgency plan, Oplan Bayanihan.

Jose Maria Sison on 2016 Presidential Elections

Posted to the pro-CPP Online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Sep 5): Jose Maria Sison on 2016 Presidential Elections (By Prof. Sarah Raymundo, CONTEND-UP)

Interview with Prof. Jose Maria Sison
The 2016 elections are still nine months away and yet those aiming for national positions from the president to the senators are already campaigning this early. Media conglomerates are beginning to cash in on paid advertisements. 
What is at stake in the upcoming elections? Bulatlat columnist and UP professor interviewed Prof. Jose Maria Sison to get the views and the position of the Left, a significant political bloc in the country, on the upcoming 2016 elections.


1. In general, what do you think of the elections conducted by the present ruling system? Do they really allow the expression of the political will of the people and do they result in the election of officials that solve the problems of the people? Are the presidential elections of 2016 any different from previous elections?

JMS: The elections conducted by the present ruling system of big compradors and landlords subservient to US imperialism do not express fully paining this early. the political will of the people and do not result in the election of officials that can solve the basic problems that pertain to foreign domination, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

The elections are dominated by the political personalities and parties that are representatives of the big compradors and landlords and veritably exclude the patriotic and progressive representatives of the workers and peasants. The methods of exclusion include military and police surveillance and other coercive operations, slander campaigns in the press, schools and churches, lack of campaign money and manipulation of the electoral voting system, whether automated or not.

The presidential elections of 2016 are bound to be no different from previous elections and may differ only in some respects, such as the unprecedentedly huge amount of public funds for campaigning and bribing local officials and the pre-programming of the automated electoral system. That’s why many are worried that Mar Roxas will win as president through fraud. Aquino is known to boast cynically that the only thing needed is to create the illusion that Roxas is zooming up in the poll survey and the mechanisms for electoral fraud will do the rest.

2. Does the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) still adhere to the policy of considering the elections a farce and does not endorse any of the political parties and candidates? But why do some parties and candidates wish to get the implicit or explicit endorsement of the CPP and you as the founding chairman of the CPP?

JMS: All pronouncements and publications of the Communist Party of the Philippines regarding elections show that this revolutionary party of the working class continues to regard the elections conducted by the reactionary classes as a farce for conjuring the illusion of democracy and deceiving the people. The CPP does not participate in such elections and neither endorses reactionary parties and candidates nor any of the patriotic and progressive small parties that are liable to be Red-baited.

Some parties and candidates actively seek the open or discreet endorsement of the CPP because of its large revolutionary mass base. This is considered even bigger than the Iglesia ni Cristo membership of voting age. Indeed, the mass base of the CPP if won over on the basis of united front can be an even bigger swing vote for or against any political party or candidate.

Efforts are sometimes exerted by political parties and candidates to seek my support because of my historical position as founding chairman of the CPP. But it is the CPP and its leading organs that make decisions regarding the elections and the application of united front policy. I am always careful and proper in saying that it is the CPP and not me as an individual that makes decisions for the CPP. However, as an individual, I can freely make statements related to the elections without speaking for the CPP or any other organization.

3. Are not the progressive party list groups extensions of the CPP? How do you reconcile the position of the CPP considering the elections as a farce and not objecting to the progressive party list groups campaigning and running for office? What is the position of the CPP towards parties and candidates that express adherence to certain positions that may please the CPP?

JMS: The progressive party list groups are not extensions of the CPP. They are independent entities, with their respective reasons for existence, compositions and identities. They are also independent from each other. They are not one and the same as the CPP, no matter how much the the Red-baiters insist.

The CPP considers the elections a farce and does not participate in the elections, especially because it is leading a people’s war for national and social liberation. On the other hand, the progressive party list groups are legal entities which are critical of the general character of the elections but see some opportunities for some seats in Congress, for broadcasting a national democratic program and achieving some reforms.

The CPP has clarified for decades that in accordance with its united front policy it has a positive attitude towards the progressive party list groups and towards patriotic and progressive candidates and sections of reactionary parties and opposition parties that join the united front against the most reactionary party in every given period.

4. What are those positions that please you or the CPP and that may be espoused by the platform of a party or a presidential candidate?

JMS: The CPP’s program for a people’s democratic revolution is well known and its position on current issues can be read in Ang Bayan. What is pleasing to me is the candidate or party that responds positively to the following demands of the people:

First, Uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity

Second, Respect human rights and give full play to democracy

Third, Reassert economic sovereignty and conserve the national patrimony

Fourth, Carry out national industrialization as the lead factor of economic development and as the key to solving unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment.

Fifth, Implement land reform as a matter of democratic right and social justice and as a method of liberating the landless tillers, releasing capital, promoting rural development and creating a domestic market

Sixth, Improve the wage and living conditions of the workers, protect and promote all possible means of livelihood and raise the people’s standard of living

Seventh, Expand social services, especially in education, health and housing,
and improve the public utilities

Eighth Stop plunder and all forms of graft and corruption and punish the
perpetrators; end the pork barrel system and channel government funds
to planned economic development, infrastructure development and expansion of
social services.

Ninth, Reduce military expenditures and channel the savings to economic
development and social services.

Tenth, Promote a patriotic, democratic , scientific and progressive system
of education and culture.

Eleventh, Uphold gender equality in all fields of social activity and combat
gender/sexual discrimination.

Twelfth, Ensure wise utilization of natural resources and protection of the

Thirteenth, Respect the rights of national minorities to self-determination and

Fourteenth, Resume GPH peace negotiations with the NDFP and complete those with
the MILF.

Fifteenth, Pursue an independent policy and develop closest cooperation with
all neighboring countries for the purpose of international solidarity,
peace and development.

5. What can the CPP or you as CPP founding chairman do to show that you are pleased or displeased with the position of a party or presidential candidate on certain or a whole set of issues?

JMS: I can publicly praise the adoption or acceptance of any of the foregoing 15 demands by any party or candidate. And I can criticize the rejection of any of these demands. I can compare the parties and candidates concerning the acceptance or rejection of these demands. I cannot speak for the CPP in this interview but you can monitor its views concerning elections by visiting

WestMinCom marks 9 years of service in Mindanao

From the Zamboanga Today Online (Sep 6): WestMinCom marks 9 years of service in Mindanao

Marking its nine years of serving the people in Mindanao, the Western Mindanao Command, Armed Forces of the Philippines (WestMinCom, AFP) held a wreath laying ceremony, thanksgiving mass, blessing of new facilities, lunch party, awarding ceremony and evening socials to celebrate the 9th anniversary of the Command at Camp Navarro, Upper Calarian, Zamboanga City last August 28, 2015.

Led by Lieutenant General Rustico Guerrero, Commander, WestMinCom, the Officers, Enlisted Personnel and Civilian Employees of the Command together with the WestMinCom Forward Liaison Elements (WMC-FLE) commemorated the sacrifices of our fallen heroes in a wreath laying ceremony held at the Dambana ng Kagitingan in Camp Navarro, Upper Calarian, Zamboanga City.

Subsequently, a thanksgiving mass and blessing of all the renovated facilities of the Command was held which was administered by Brigadier General Tirso Dolina, AFP Chief Chaplain, and graced by Ms. Maria Corazon Guerrero, wife of Lieutenant General Guerrero.

Partner stakeholders and city officials were accorded certificates of appreciation for their invaluable support and services extended to the WestMinCom which contributed in the accomplishment of its mission during the lunch party held for the August birthday celebrants at the Officer’s Club in Camp Navarro.

Among those who were awarded were Hon. Celso Lobregat, Zamboanga City District I Representative; Hon. Lilia Macrohon-Nuño, Zamboanga City District II Representative; Hon. Ronald Maravilla, Barangay Captain, Labuan, Zamboanga City; Cliff Reynera, General Manager, Eco Bottling Enterprises; Edgar Tam, President, Myler Agribusiness, Inc. Company;

William Tiu-Lim, Founder and Chief Executive Officer,  Ayala Seafoods Corporation; Anita Lee Kaw, President, Universal Canning, Inc.; Noel Tatel, General Manager, Barcode Restaurant; Ricardo Marmoleño, proprietor of the Ric and Remy’s Bakeshop; Brother Felipe Belleza, Jr. of the La Salle Academy, Iligan City; Lorraine Olaso, proprietor of the ACO Construction; Joel Consorte, Cabato Enterprise; Raymond Young of the Max’s Restaurant; and Erlinda Langkay of the Rotary Club of Zamboanga City West.

The same award was accorded to several establishments, academic and government institutions, including the Southern City Colleges; Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology; WestMinCom Forward Liaison Elements, US Pacific Command; 5th Special Action Battalion, Special Action Force (5SAB, SAF); Bureau of Customs-Port of Zamboanga; Bureau of Fire Protection Zamboanga Sibugay; Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc.-Zamboanga Plant; Smart Telecommunications-Zamboanga City; Globe Telecommunications, Inc.-Zamboanga City; and Department of Health Region 9 (DOH-9).

The Command also distributed bags to the birthday celebrants and held a raffle draw during the lunch party and the socials held at the WestMinCom Gymnasium at 7pm of the same day.

'ETHNOCIDE' | Lumad exodus grows, case eyed in global court over educator's killing

From InterAksyon (Sep 6): 'ETHNOCIDE' | Lumad exodus grows, case eyed in global court over educator's killing

A family sleeps on the ground of the Provincial Sports Center in Tandag City. (Erwin Mascariñas/

Amid growing outrage over the recent killings of tribal leaders running alternative schools for the lumad, soldiers who hail from indigenous tribes in Mindanao have been trained to become instructors of government’s Alternative Learning System, the Army’s 4th Infantry Division said Sunday.

This, as leaders of a support group for indigenous communities said Sunday the aggrieved Lumad may raise the issue of deliberate murders of indigenous peoples (IPs) before the courts or even international tribunals.

According to them, 68 people have been summarily killed since 2010, including 13 lumad who were killed since March 2015.

The military's announcement that soldiers from IP groups have been trained to take over the schools evoked a jarring note to the outcry against the recent killings, the latest being the Sept. 1 murder of an award-winning lumad educator and two IPs.

According to a statement from the 4th ID, at least 24 soldiers who come from tribes in Region 10 and Caraga completed their ALS Instructor Training in Camp Evangelista, Cagayan de Oro Saturday afternoon.

The training was conducted with the Department of Education Region 10.

The 4th ID commander, Major General Oscar Lactao, thanked DepEd regional office and exhorted the soldiers to “use this training as a tool that will be shared to the people living in far-flung communities. Take this as an opportunity to become role models and future leaders of the nation.”

Nearly 3,000 evacuees

Meanwhile, nearly 3,000 residents of hinterland communities in Surigao del Sur, mostly Manobo, have evacuated to the provincial capital Tandag City following the killing of Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, and the execution of tribal leaders Dionel Campos and his cousin Bello Sinzo.

The ALCADEV is an award-winning tribal school in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga town that the military has often accused of advocating support for communist rebels.

The three were killed by a tribal militia, the Magahat, according to initial reports, but subsequent eyewitness accounts indicate that troops of some units of the 4th ID may have been involved in the deaths of Campos and Sinzo.

Campos and Sinzo were publicly executed by heavy gunfire, while Samarca’s body was found with multiple stab wounds and his throat slit ear-to-ear inside a classroom the IPs had built in Diatagon, according to a report by Karapatan human rights group.

Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel has demanded that the Army immediately disband the militias, whom he blames for repeated evacuations of hinterland residents for the past six years.

The Army helped in creating this militia group, the governor said, adding, "they should find a means to stop and put an end to them.”

The human rights group Karapatan said in a news release Sunday the number of lumad (indigenous people) forced to evacuate their homes in Surigao del Sur have swollen to more than 2,700 as military and para-military operations continue,

Karapatan identified the military and para-military groups that are frightening people away from their homes and communities as the 36th Infantry Battalion, 75th Infantry Battalion, Special Forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the groups of Marcos Bocales and Marcial Belandres.

The evacuees come from 21 lumad communities in the four hinterland municipalities of Surigao del Sur (Lianga, San Agustin, San Miguel, and Tago), it added.

Karapatan said nine tribal schools have been closed down as the evacuation affects 676 students and 47 teachers.


Relatedly, the Community-Based Health Programs (CBHPs) of the Philippines has demanded justice for Samarca, Campos and Sinzo.

Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, executive director of the Council for Health and Development (CHD), which supervises CBHPs, said the barbarism committed against Samarca, Campos and Sinzo was similar to that inflicted on a community health worker and her husband in Negros Oriental several months ago.

All the murdered IP leaders were known to be opposed to the operations of mining companies like Nickel Asia and SR Metals, both of which are owned by financial backers of Liberal Party  presidential contender and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas like Salvador “Buddy” Zamora and Eric Gutierrez.

Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice is also identified with SR Metals, but has claimed in earlier interviews he had divested himself os his interest in the firm.

According to Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu) secretary general Piya Macliing Malayao, the total number of victims of summary killings since Aquino took over in 2010 has risen to 68 and the 13 who died since March 2015 all belong to Lumad communities.

One IP leader was also snatched, 99 were harassed, trumped-charges were filed against 176 leaders and members of indigenous groups, and seven have been imprisoned.

Minority communities were also bombed nine times and communities were forced to evacuate 44 times, Katribu said.

Ethnocide is the deliberate destruction of a culture as well as people belonging to a specific ethnic and linguistic stock.

Global courts

Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna said the aggrieved Lumads may raise the issue of deliberate murders of their fellow members of indigenous peoples (IPs) before the courts or even international tribunals.

He noted that Serbian leaders have been hauled off to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia decades ago.

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the human rights watchdog Karapatan, said the reports about the grisly murders, along with testimonies from scores of witnesses, have already been furnished to United Nations Special Rappporteur (UNSR) on Extrajudicial Killing Christof Heyns and UNSR on Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst.

UNSR on the Human Rights of Displaced Persons Cheloka Beyani also came to know the plight of 700 Lumad evacuees at the Haran Compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Davao City in July 2015 and even became the victim of the military, who claimed that the UN official admitted the evacuees were being held against their will by human rights advocates.

Jara, who heads the 64 members of CBHPs, said: “As fellow advocates of community welfare, the CBHPs condemn the continuous military-backed harassment and killing of community leaders. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continues to receive a huge chunk of the national budget and has boasted of using it for peace and development. On the contrary, human rights violations attributed to the military and military-backed units have only intensified within the Aquino administration -- nothing new since the martial law era.”

“The people of Mindanao, especially the indigenous people, are already deprived of social services and continue to suffer because of the massive land-grabbing, environmental destruction, mining-company incursions, and militarization. Like the CBHPs, organizations such as Alcadev and Mapasu support and unify these communities to attain the basic rights that the government has failed to provide,” Jara stressed.

“Attacks on community-based workers are attacks on the people themselves. It is imperative that paramilitary forces are disarmed, and the military pull out of IP communities. We call for an immediate and independent investigation into this recent spate of killings and the perpetrators of this heinous act be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” she added.

Surigao Sur evacuees swell to 2,700 as military, para-military ops continue - Karapatan

From InterAksyon (Sep 6): Surigao Sur evacuees swell to 2,700 as military, para-military ops continue - Karapatan

Lumad evacuees in Tandag City, 6 September 2015. PHOTO FROM KARAPATAN

The number of lumad (indigenous people) forced to evacuate their homes in Surigao del Sur have swollen to more than 2,700 as military and para-military operations continue, the human rights group Karapatan said in a news release Sunday.

Karapatan identified the military and para-military groups that are frightening people away from their homes and communities as the 36th Infantry Battalion, 75th Infantry Battalion, Special Forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the bandit group of Marcos Bocales and Marcial Belandres.

Eighty-three families with 432 individuals from five lumad communities of Barangay Bolhoon in San Miguel town joined the earlier evacuees who sought sanctuary at the Provincial Sports Center in Barangay Telaje, Tandag City, the human rights group said.

This brought the number of evacuees to around 500 families with more or less 2, 700 individuals from 21 neighboring lumad communities in the four hinterland municipalities of Surigao del Sur (Lianga, San Agustin, San Miguel, and Tago), it added.

Karapatan said nine tribal schools have been closed down as the evacuation affects 676 students and 47 teachers.

The new evacuees from four communities in San Miguel town have been seeking shelter at the municipal gymnasium in San Miguel poblacion since August 9, 2015, after members of the Bocales bandit group told them to leave their community or they will be massacred, Karapatan said.

Teachers of the Nalindog Tribal Community School were accused of being members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) and the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) as NPA school.

They decided to join their fellow lumad in Tandag when 16 families with 81 individuals evacuated from Tambonon late last night toward San Roque, Karapatan said. They proceeded to San Miguel poblacion in fear for their lives because of military presence in their communities and upon hearing gunshots in the mountain areas around their community.

Members of the 36th IB and the Bocales bandit group were said to be going toward their community, which is located at the other side of the mountains in Diatagon, Lianga.

Earlier evacuations

The 15 lumad communities from Lianga, San Agustin, and Tago evacuated after military elements of the 36th IB, 75th IB, Special Forces of the AFP and some members of the Bocales bandit group allegedly tortured and killed Emerito “Tatay Emok” Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Livelihood and Agricultural Development (Alcadev).

The same military and para-military groups also allegedly shot and killed Mapasu chairman Dionel Campos along with another lumad Datu Bello Sinzo in the early morning of September 1.

They also indiscriminately fired their weapons, encamped in the school grounds and classrooms, ransacked houses, burned the Mapasu cooperative store, burned the Han-ayan Tribal Community School, and took the cellphones, cameras, and computers of the residents, teachers, and visitors, Karapatan said.

Military men allegedly also threatened the residents that they would be massacred if they do not leave their communities within two days, the human rights group said.

The Alcadev foundation day celebration had just ended two days prior and the people were in vigil for a dead resident, when the rampage happened.

The people from neighboring lumad communities, upon hearing several bursts of gunshots, joined the Han-ayan and Km 16 residents in evacuation.

The bodies of Samarca, Campos, and Bello Sinzo currently lie in wake at the Provincial Capitol building in Tandag City.

Members of the 36th IB, 75th IB, Special Forces, and the Bocales bandit group are believed to still be in the communities.

Returning home

On the other hand, the 332 families with 1,865 individuals who evacuated from Siagao to the poblacion of San Miguel have already returned home, Karapatan said. They evacuated after brothers Crisanto and Loloy Tagugol were shot and killed allegedly by members of the Hasmin bandit group last August 28.

As of posting time, no perpetrator has been arrested, the 36th IB, 75th IB, and Special Forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines continue their military operations in the mountain areas. The members of the Bocales bandit group also continue to be used and coddled by the AFP despite its members being positively identified as killers, Karapatan said.

The evacuees are demanding justice for the extra judicial killing of Samarca, Campos, and Bello Sinzo, along with the Tabugol brothers; the immediate dismantling, arrest and persecution of their killers and an end to militarization of their communities so that they can immediately return home, their children can continue their schooling and they can recover from the destruction and loss to lives, property and opportunities that these incidents have brought.