Lumads hold dialogue with UN experts, rallies support against ongoing militarization, killings in communities

IPMSDL Secretariat statement
Date of publication: 
20 September, 2015

Manila, Philippines—Indigenous Peoples organizations facilitated a dialogue with United Nations Special Rapporteur (SR) on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Vicky Tauli-Corpuz last 16 September 2015 on the recent spate of Lumad killings in Mindanao. Edtami Mansayagan, a Lumad himself and a member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) was also present in the dialogue. Both representatives listened to the testimonies of the victims, relatives and witnesses in the Pangantucan, Bukidnon and Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) (Lianga) massacres.

Gideon Galicia, ALCADEV volunteer teacher recounted the September 1 incident in Lianga, Surigao Del Sur, where paramilitary group Bagani/Magahat, armed and supported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) brutally killed Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo. Also present was Michele Campos, daughter of the slain tribal leader Dionel Campos. Jun-jun1, a survivor and witness of the massacre in Pangantucan last August 18, 2015 gave full details of the incident.

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) in coordination with the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas (KATRIBU), Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN), PASAKA and KALUMBAY formally submitted official complaints to the UN SR against the paramilitary group Magahat and the AFP on the abovementioned massacres and other human rights violations. These complaints cover incidents since January 2015. Monico Cayog, Chairperson of KALUMARAN expressed appreciation to this opportunity as a possible step to end the worsening militarization in the Mindanao.

On her part, SR Tauli-Corpuz said that the dialogue was helpful for her reports to the UN. According to the SR, if given the chance, she would visit the affected communities in Mindanao. She further urged the Lumads and their organizations to send her regular updates on the situation.

Prior to the dialogue, SR Corpuz sent a letter to the Philippine government explaining the situation in Mindanao in hopes to hold a dialogue with the Philippine Army and other government officials implicated in the killings. She expressed commitment to bring these issues to fore and gather international attention to end the worsening conflict.

She further noted that “Saan mang batas, hindi talaga puedeng babarilin mo na lang ang isang sibilyan ng ganun ganun lang. Malinaw naman na marami silang nilabag na batas. Kailangan nating ilagay sa lugar ang gubyerno para sagutin yan.” (In any law, you cannot just shoot civilians. They clearly violated several laws. The government has to answer to these complaints.) “Susuportahan ko ang inyong mga hinihiling na mapaalis na yung mga ‘yan sa komunidad.” (I will support your calls and demands for them [military and paramilitary forces] to leave your communities), she added.

The Special Rapporteur expressed commitment to continuously monitor the government’s action regarding these cases and to ask the Philippine Army for a dialogue that will address the said killings.

She also requested Mansayagan to monitor the situation and recommend actions that he can take in his capacity as a member of the EMRIP. She further recommended, if possible, for him to set a dialogue with the Bagani paramilitary group and tell them that what they are doing is unacceptable. She suggested to the Lumads to organize a dialogue as one community and tribe to pressure the paramilitary group Bagani that they should be fighting for the rights of the IP and not for the interest and benefit of the Philippine Army.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) mandates the Special Rapporteur to2:

(a) Examine ways and means of overcoming existing obstacles to the full and effective protection of the rights of indigenous peoples;

(b) Gather, request, receive and exchange information and communications from all relevant sources, including Governments, indigenous peoples and their communities and organizations, on alleged violations of the rights of indigenous peoples;

(c) Formulate recommendations and proposals on appropriate measures and activities to prevent and remedy violations of the rights of indigenous peoples

(d)Work in close cooperation and coordination with other special procedures and subsidiary organs of the Council, in particular with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, relevant United Nations bodies, the treaty bodies, and regional human rights organizations.

[1] Not his real name for security reasons.