Perpetrators of the Lianga massacre must be punished, and the war of plunder against the Lumad must end

Source: 
Kalikasan PNE Press Statement - http://www.kalikasan.net/press-release/2015/09/02/perpetrators-lianga-massacre-must-be-punished-and-war-plunder-against-lumad
Date of publication: 
2 September, 2015

In what may very well be one of the most depraved and deplorable attacks on the lives of environmental defenders in the Philippines, the paramilitary group Magahat, a group attached to the 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, publicly massacred Emerico Samarca, the executive director of the Lumad school Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), along with tribal leader Dionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo early last Tuesday morning in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

We join the widespread condemnation of this ruthless massacre and the demands for justice for Samarca, Campos, and Sinzo. Beyond that, we demand an end to the militarization and impunity towards various Lumad communities across the Mindanao region, clearly part and parcel of the Aquino administration’s war of plunder against mine-affected communities.

The establishment of ALCADEV by the Lumads in CARAGA region was a groundbreaking and award-winning alternative education program for the Lumad communities accredited by the Department of Education. ALCADEV was also a concrete assertion of the Lumad’s opposition to destructive large-scale mining and other forms of development aggression, as it sought to develop sustainable agriculture and resource management practices and inculcate cultural pride linked with ecological consciousness among young Lumads.

Emerico Samarca was in fact a recent delegate to the International People’s Conference on Mining held in the Philippines last July 31 to August 1, where he was joined by more than 170 participants from over 29 countries in extensively discussing the global mining situation and sharing people’s concrete solutions. The ALCADEV had been a model grassroots initiative in providing a basic social service, preserving local indigenous culture and practices, and establishing an alternative economy in mining-affected indigenous people’s communities.

The Lianga massacre brings the number of killings of environmental advocates we recorded under the administration of Pres. Noynoy Aquino to 49, which has far exceeded the 36 we recorded through almost a decade under the previous Arroyo regime. Eighty percent of all these cases involved anti-mining activists, and almost all of the cases were perpetrated by military ‘investment defense forces,’ company-sponsored paramilitary groups, or private security forces.

More cases may have likely remained undocumented. According to United Nations special rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, 100 indigenous people were killed protecting their ancestral lands and environment over the past three years alone.

The recent rampaging ethnocide by military and paramilitary forces in Mindanao had caused large-scale rights violations, including the forced evacuations of thousands of Lumads across different parts of the region, and the filing of trumped-up harassment charges against the various anti-mining and human rights advocates.

It is no coincidence that Mindanao is the ‘mining capital of the Philippines’ where majority of all mining projects in the country can be found, and that more than 60 percent of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ combat troops have been deployed largely in various mine-affected areas in Mindanao.

The Aquino government has had five years to act on the highly militarized large-scale mining industry that is almost inextricable from bloody counter-insurgency operational plans such as Oplan Bayanihan. Aquino himself has long been challenged to reverse his permission of Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary or SCAA units for mining corporations. Aquino and his military attack dogs continue to miserably fail to address their atrocities, and they all must be held to account for their grave sins to the people and the environment.

But the urgent people’s demands still falls on the Aquino administration even during its last, dying days: all military investment defense forces must be pulled out from the mine-affected areas. All paramilitary groups must be disbanded. Swift justice must be delivered by immediately arresting and prosecuting the Magahat paramilitary forces and their superiors in the 36th IBPA. Las but not the least, all anti-people, anti-environment, foreign large-scale mining operations, especially those with track records of human rights violations, must be stopped.

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Head of tribal school, lumad leader slain by militia in Surigao del Sur

By: InterAksyon.com – http://www.interaksyon.com/article/116906/breaking—head-of-lumad-schoo...

1 September 2015

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 3 – 2:56 p.m.) In what may be the worst in a series of recent attacks on indigenous people in Mindanao, militiamen allegedly murdered the head of a tribal school, the chairman of a lumad organization and one other person in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur early Tuesday morning.

Josephine Pagalan, spokesperson of the Kahugpungn sa mga Lumad-Caraga or KASALU, a regional federation of indigenous people’s organizations, told InterAksyon.com by phone that Dionel Campos, chairman of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sa Sumusunod or MAPASU, and his cousin Bello Sinzo, were executed at KM16, Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon in front of hundreds of residents of at least six sitios who had been ordered out of their homes by gunmen of the Magahat militia around 4 a.m.

The executions were also witnessed by teachers and students of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development or ALCADEV, who had been roused from their dormitories at the school and ordered to join the residents at KM16.

When the militia withdrew after killing the two, the teachers and students returned to the ALCADEV compound to find the school’s executive director, Emerito Samarca, who had been ordered to stay behind, dead in a room, his throat slit and stabbed in the stomach, his hands and feet bound with rope.

Two days before the killings, troops of the Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion and Special Forces Regiment arrived in Diatagon on August 30, just two days after ALCADEV celebrated its 11th founding anniversary, occupying the school and village, as well as another school run by the NGO, Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur, or TRIFPSS.

Karapatan-Caraga said the Magahat, said the human rights group, arrived August 31 and immediately burned the MAPASU cooperative and fired their weapons, sending residents and school staff fleeing to KM16. However, they detained Samarca.

Pagalan, who was having the incident recorded at the Lianga police station when interviewed, told InterAksyon.com that early Tuesday morning, Magahat gunmen went around their communities, “kicked the doors of houses, ordering the people out and telling them to gather at KM16.”

Pagalan said she herself had been staying with a daughter at KM16 who had just given birth.

When the residents had gathered there, she said, the militiamen “ordered us to stop supporting the NPA (New People’s Army) if we did not want to die.”

Campos was then ordered to sit down outside her daughter’s store where “he was shot in the head,” followed by Sinzo. “Silang tanan nagpaputok (They all fired their guns),” Pagalan said.

She said the Magahat then “warned us to leave our place within two days or we would be killed when they returned.” They confiscated cellular phones and cameras of residents before withdrawing.

Pagalan said the residents of Diatagon have agreed to flee and head to the provincial capital, Tandag City, to seek help from the government. Currently, Karapatan-Caraga said an initial 40 families from KM 16 and Han-ayan are on their way to Tandag with the bodies of the three victims.

In the wake of the murders, the human rights group said, the 38th IB and Special Forces troops “are conducting their usual patrols but no other actions are being taken as of this time.”

Samarca, 54, left behind a wife and four children.

He had been with ALCADEV since its founding and became executive director in 2012. Before this, he worked with SILDAP-SIDLAKAN, a lumad support institution in Caraga from 1990-1998 and with the Unyon sa Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte or UMAN, an affiliate of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in the 1980’s, Karapatan said.

He had recently attended the International People’s Conference on Mining held in Metro Manila from July 30 to August 1.

Lawmakers from the Makabayan block immediately condemned the killing and demanded justice for the victims.

“There is a systematic operation to harass and kill lumad leaders. It is alarming,” Gabriela party-list Representative Luz Ilagan said.

Ilagan said that the opposition to mining activities in the area could be behind the attacks.

Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate said “killings and human rights violations” have become the Aquino administration’s legacy to the lumad.

“The government’s upkeep of paramilitary organizations is sustaining the state of impunity in our country. We denounce this recent killing of lumad leaders to the highest degree. We demand swift justice for these killings,” he said.

“This new spate of lumad killings by paramilitary groups and suspected elements of the military is the result of President Aquino’s extant policy of militarization of the countryside. This latest incident further highlights the continuing culture of impunity in a country with a very dismal record of protecting human rights,” Kabataan Representative Terry Ridon said as he called on the House committee on human rights to act motu propio (on its own initiative) and investigate the killings.

This would be the second mass evacuation of residents from the lumad communities of Diatagon since last October when some 1,800 Manobo fled their homes after the murder of MAPASU council member Henry Sarsona Alameda, who was executed in front of his family allegedly by soldiers and militiamen, and Aldren Dumaguit.

The murder of Samarca, Campos and Sinzo happens on the heels of the reported evacuation of more than 300 lumad families in San Miguel, also in Surigao del Sur, after Bagani gunmen allegedly killedbrothers Crisanto and Ellie Tabogol in their home the evening of August 28.

Benedictine nun Stella Matutina, who is slated to receive a human rights award from Weimar, Germany for her work with indigenous people and peasant communities in Mindanao, said the San Miguel evacuation had brought the number of internally displaced families in San Miguel to 480 following the earlier evacuation of 45 Manobo families from another village.

The Surigao del Sur incidents are the most recent human rights violations against lumad in Mindanao allegedly committed by state security forces and paramilitary groups associated with them that followed the controversy surrounding last month’s attempt to force hundreds of Manobo refugees out of a church compound in Davao City where they have sought refuge and back to their villages.

Among the other incidents are the alleged massacre of five Manobo clansmen, including a blind 72-year old and his 14-year old grandson, in Pangantucan, Bukidnon; the arrest in Gingoog City of two Manobo brothers, including a former volunteer teacher of a tribal school; and the arrest of 14 persons, including officials of lumad and farmers’ groups and a 12-year old boy, in Kitao-tao, Bukidnon.

ALCADEV is one of several schools set up by nongovernmental and religious organizations in lumad communities where educations opportunities used to be non-existent. However, these schools have openly been accused by the military of advocating support for communist rebels.

Late last year and early this year, teachers and students from the tribal schools, including ALCADEV and TRIFPSS, went to Metro Manila to seek national government help to stop the occupation of the learning centers by soldiers and militiamen and attempts to shut them down. (with a report from Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, InterAksyon.com)

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CHR condemns slay of ‘lumad’ educator

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/719389/chr-condemns-slay-of-lumad-educator

5 September 2015

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has condemned the killing of a lumad (indigenous) educator and two tribal leaders in Surigao del Sur province on Tuesday.

“Tribal leaders, executive directors of schools, must be protected from harm. The reports we have seen so far show prima facie violations of fundamental rights,” CHR Chair Chito Gascon told the Inquirer in a phone interview on Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning, members of the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani allegedly gunned down Emerito Samarca, executive director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development; Dionel Campos, chair of the Mapasu indigenous group; and his cousin, Belio Sinzo.

An advocacy group, Save our Schools (SOS) Network, reported the killings in a press statement.

“Of course, now we have to find out … who the perpetrators are. If, in fact, [they] are members of the paramilitary group receiving support and encouragement from our armed forces, then, of course, we will ask the military to explain this matter,” Gascon said.

He said he had already directed the CHR’s office in the Caraga region to investigate the matter. “But … even prior to receiving the full report, we strongly condemn these killings,” he said.

“We demand justice for this blatant human right violation,” said Kharlo Manano, spokesperson of the SOS Network. “Perpetrators of this gruesome crime should be prosecuted.”

Manano called for the pullout of “all military and paramilitary troops in the countryside.”

Gascon said that though “schools must be protected and respected,” the CHR could not comment on “operational matters of security forces in areas of conflict.”

“There are, of course, guidelines that must be respected in terms of the way they operate in areas of conflict. And if there are clear violations of human rights, we will ask the military to explain and, ultimately, we will hold them to account for them,” he said.

The Army’s 4th Infantry Division, which has jurisdiction over Surigao del Sur, also “condemned the crime committed by [the] armed group.”

“It is very unfortunate that this situation has happened considering that the government is already gaining ground on its peace advocacies in these conflict-affected areas,” Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, division commander, said in a statement.

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After killings, Manobo families abandon villages

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/719103/after-killings-manobo-families-aband...

4 September 2015

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Imelda Belandres’ father has just died and she was praying during his wake on Monday night when heavily armed soldiers entered her village in Diatagon, Lianga in Surigao del Sur province.

“The soldiers … were looking for a chairman. We politely replied that there are many chairpersons here like those of the purok, sitio and other organizations,” Belandres, a Manobo resident of Sitio Han-ayan, said in a phone interview.

When they started looking for the datu, a relative, the family said no one can talk to him right now because he was in grief and that his privacy must be respected as is the custom of the tribe, the woman narrated. “They agreed and encamped 5 meters away,” she said.

Tension escalated when more soldiers, who introduced themselves as members of the Army’s 36th and 75th Infantry Battalions (IBs), and the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group, massed up in the village around 4 a.m. on Tuesday.

“This group was more agitated and scary. They went inside the houses without requesting permission from residents and went through our belongings. The soldiers then ordered everyone to gather near our father’s wake,” Belandres said.

While they were being herded by the armed men, screams were heard from students who had just entered the compound of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), to tell its director, Emerito Samarca, about the commotion outside.

The body of Samarca was found, hogtied and with a single stab wound, inside one of the classrooms. He was last seen being taken away by Magahat members on Monday after he ordered all of the teachers to leave amid a threat of being massacred by a ragtag gang of bandits.

The day before, armed men burned a cooperative building adjacent to Alcadev, a privately operated but government-regulated learning institution that provides basic and technical education to lumad (indigenous) children in communities rarely reached by government services. The school won the National Literacy Award in 2001 and 2005 and was a finalist in 2014.

“When we heard the students screaming, we tried to run to their direction, but the armed men stopped us,” Belandres said. The intruders ordered the residents to abandon the place.

“They ordered us to walk towards Kilometer 16 and we have to follow because they were armed. We were scared that they will kill us,” Belandres said. On the dirt road, they were surrounded by the soldiers and militias.

“When we reached Kilometer 16, they told us not to move an inch or we will be killed. One of the soldiers introduced himself as a certain Bebot Bigante Brital of the 75th IB and he lectured us that we should not complain about mining companies coming in our lands because they will give us money,” Belandres said.

She said the soldiers accused them of being members of the communist New People’s Army and that they were the reason the companies cannot operate in the area.

“Many of the residents tried to argue explaining that we were civilians. While this was happening, they suddenly grabbed Dionel Campos and his cousin Bello Sinzo. It happened too fast. They opened fire not far from us. It was very close to our feet. So we dove for cover. After the firing stopped, we saw the dead bodies. There were blood, flesh and human brain on the ground. They killed them,” Belandres said.

Dialogue

Campos was the chair of the Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alansa sa Sumusunod. He was very vocal in his advocacy for the protection of ancestral lands and in calling for an end to human rights abuses.

At least 10 sitios in the village of Diatagon are now deserted. Some 2,000 residents are staying in an evacuation center in Tandag City after walking for hours.

On Wednesday, Gov. Johnny Pimentel convened representatives of the local government unit, police and civil society groups for a dialogue to arrest the situation. Bishop Modesto Villasanta of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines said Pimentel had wanted charges to be filed against members of the Magahat-Bagani force but that they should be named.

Karapatan, a militant human rights group, said the charges should not be limited to the paramilitary group as it accused the military of orchestrating the operation. The military denied the accusations and vowed full support of the investigation and efforts to stabilize the situation.

In a statement, Col. Isidro Purisima, commander of 402nd IB, said more troops had already been deployed “to closely coordinate and assist the PNP (Philippine National Police) in the investigation of the burning and killing incidents” and to “go after the perpetrators.”

Peace programs

“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.

Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, said the incidents had affected the peace programs of the provincial government. “We condemn the crime committed by this armed group. It is very unfortunate that this situation happened considering that the government is already gaining grounds on its peace advocacies in these conflict-affected areas,” he said.

“Governor Pimentel and Mayor (Roy) Sarmen are already on top of this incident and have taken measures to stabilize the situation. We will support and participate in the conduct of this fact-finding mission and the ongoing investigation by the PNP to give justice to the victims of this crime,” Lactao added.

Eliza Pangilinan, secretary general of Karapatan-Caraga, said the statements of the military were meant to save face over its “tactical blunder” in the area.

“The Magahat-Bagani group was with the military during the incident. And it was the military who created, armed, trained and funded this group. Will the military go after its own men?” Pangilinan asked. The group has about 20 members armed with automatic firearms.

Karapatan said the militia unit started recruiting members as the military implemented its “Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan.”

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Philippines: Killing of human rights defender

Front Line Defenders statement

3 September 2015

On 1 September 2015, human rights defender and director of an education initiative for the Lumad indigenous people, Mr Emerito Samarca, was killed, allegedly by members of a paramilitary group. He was found dead in one of the classrooms in the school compound in Han-ayan, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Emerito Samarca was the director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), a self-initiated school for the Lumad indigenous people. The school provides secondary education to members of the indigenous community, supporting the development of their communities and raising awareness of indigenous people. Emerito Samarca had worked for ALCADEV since it was founded in 2004 and became executive director in 2012.

In the early morning of 1 September 2015, the body of the human rights defender, who was reportedly stabbed to death, was discovered inside one of the classrooms of the school. He was allegedly killed by a paramilitary group known as the Magahat militia which, the night prior to the killing, had ordered the rest of the staff members, teachers and students to leave the Han-ayan area and to go to Kilometre16 village, which is three kilometres from Han-ayan.

Two days prior to the killing of Emerito Samarca, members of the state Magahat/Bagani Force and of the 36th Infantry Battalion and Special Forces Regiment had occupied and carried out a patrol of the area, including within the ALCADEV school compound, the Han-ayan village and another school run by the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS). Subsequently, the Magahat militia, which is reportedly backed by state forces, warned staff and students at the school, as well as community members, that if they did not leave the area within two days, they would massacre the entire community.

On 31 August, the majority of the ALCADEV staff, as well as residents of Han-ayan, left the village out of fear for their safety and went to Kilometre 16 village. Later that night, members of the Magahat militia raided the houses in Kilometre 16 village, forcing the residents to go to a local community centre. During the raid, members of the paramilitary confiscated all cellphones and cameras belonging to Han-ayan residents and ALCADEV staff.

Following this raid, at approximately 4 am on 1 September 2015, around the time it is believed Emerito Samarca was killed, many of those who had fled Han-yan witnessed the killing of Mr Dionel Campos, chairman of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), an organisation campaigning against large-scale mining in Surigao del Sur and representing the indigenous people. His cousin Mr Bello Sinzo was also killed. Members of the Magahat militia executed them in front of hundreds of residents in Kilometre 16 village, before leaving the scene.

The situation which defenders of indigenous rights face in the Philippines continues to deteriorate, particularly in the Mindanao region. On 18 August 2015, army troopers belonging to the 1st Special Forces battalion killed five members of the Manobo Farmers Association, a local organisation of Lumad peasants in the area.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the killing of Emerito Samarca and other members of the Lumad indigenous community. Front Line Defenders believes that Emerito Samarca was specifically targeted on account of his peaceful work in defence of indigenous rights.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in the Philippines to:

1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into killing of Emerito Samarca, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of ALCADEV staff members, students and community residents;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the Philippines are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

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Karapatan outraged by the killing of Lumad school exec and leaders in Surigao del Sur

Karapatan Press Statement – http://www.karapatan.org/Karapatan+outraged+by+the+killing+of+Lumad+scho...

1 September 2015

“This is reminiscent of the Arroyo’s war against the Filipino people, at a time 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,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said upon receiving initial report on the killing of three persons in Surigao del Sur this morning, September 1. “And, just like the Arroyo administration, BS Aquino is expected to cover up these crimes and avoid this issue like it has not happened at all,” Palabay said.

“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. We also demand the immediate pull out of the 36th Infantry Battalion in Lumad communities in Lianga, Surigao del Sur,” Palabay said.

Emerito Samarca, executive director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), a self-initiated school for the Lumad, was found dead on September 1 with a stab wound inside one of the classrooms in the school compound in Han-ayan, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Also killed in Km. 16, some three kilometres from Han-ayan, were Dionel Campos, chairperson of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) and his cousin, Bello Sinzo. The two 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, staffs and community members that they will massacre the community if the people will not leave in two days.

August 31, the MAGAHAT group burned down the community cooperative store of MAPASU while indiscriminately firing around the community. Samarca, according to initial report was held and detained by some armed members of Magahat before he was killed. He was last seen tied around the neck, his hands and feet were also tied. He was brought to one of the classrooms.

On the evening of August 31, the Alcadev faculty and most of the residents in Han-ayan went to Km. 16 for safety. At around 4 a.m., Magahat Forces went from house to house in Km. 16 and ordered the residents to get out of their houses and go to the center of the community. That was when Campos and Sinzo were met by a volley of gunfire from brothers Loloy and Bobby Tejero of the Magahat/Bagani Force.

Magahat members also confiscated all cellphones and cameras from the residents and ALCADEV staff and remaining visitors in the community.

As of this writing, the residents of Han-ayan, with the remains of Samarca, Campos and Sinzo are on their way to Tandag, Surigao del Sur.

“The Bagani paramilitary and the 36th IB has long been accusing self-help Lumad school ALCADEV as NPA school, killings the teachers and organizers in the community, consequently depriving the Lumad of their education,” Palabay said.

Magahat group was also involved in the killing of brothers Crisanto and Ely Tagobol on August 28 on Brgy. Siagao, San Miguel, Agusan del Sur.

“With so much blood in the hands of BS Aquino, the regime cannot simply wash away its stench. The mounting call for justice for those killed will not be silenced,” Palabay said. “BS Aquino and the AFP’s attempt to cover up does not work. More Filipinos will hold them accountable for their blood debts,” Palabay said. ###

Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, +63917-3162831 Angge Santos, Media Liaison, +63918-9790580

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.

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KARAPATAN URGENT ALERTALCADEV EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TWO LUMAD LEADERS KILLED BY AFP UNITS AND ITS PARAMILITARY GROUP; COMMUNITY MEMBERS FORCED TO EVACUATE

UA Date : September 3, 2015

UA Case : Extrajudicial killing, frustrated killing, threat and harassment,

forcible evacuation, use of schools for military purpose, torture, divestment of property, destruction of property, indiscriminate firing

Victim/s :

EMERITO SAMARCA, 54, married with four children, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV); he was staff member of ALCADEV since its founding and became executive director in 2012. From 1990-1998, he worked with SILDAP-SIDLAKAN, a Lumad support institution in Caraga. He was also staff of the Unyon sa Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte (UMAN) – KMP in the 1980’s.

DIONEL CAMPOS, of legal age, married, resident of Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, Chairperson, Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU or Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation); He is the cousin of JALANDONI CAMPOS, a Lumad leader who has been falsely charged with criminal offense.

BELLO SINZO, of legal age, member of MAPASU and resident of Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur

About 260 families/2,000 community members and residents of Han-ayan and Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur; and about 307 families from 10 communities in Diatagon, Lianga; three communities in Buhisan, San Agustin; and, one community in Caras-an, Tago, all in Surigao del Sur.

26 Faculty and staff members of ALCADEV and TRIFPSS (Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur)

Place of incident : ALCADEV compound in Han-ayan and Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon,

Lianga, Surigao del Sur

Date of incident : September 1, 2015 at around 4 a.m.

Perpetrator/s : Elements of the 36th IB-PA under Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Akas (who turned over command to Lt. Col. Randolph Roxas September 1);

Elements of the 75th Infantry Battalion and Special Forces of the Philippine Army; Elements of the paramilitary Magahat/Bagani Forces/Marcos Bocales group identified by eyewitnesses as Bobby Tejero and Loloy Tejero, among 18 others

ACCOUNT OF THE INCIDENT:

On September 1, at around 4 a.m., members of the AFP’s paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani Force/Marcos Bocales group opened fire at Dionel Campos and his cousin Bello Sinzo and a staff member of ALCADEV Belen Itallo in the presence of the community members in Km.16, Bgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Campos and Sinzo died instantly, while Itallo survived. The back of Campos’s head was blown off, as some witnesses believed armed men used M203 rifle to shoot him.

In the same morning, Emerito Samarca’s dead body was found in one of the classrooms in school compound of ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development). Samarca is Executive Director of ALCADEV. His throat was slit open, with the cut that ranged from ear to ear.

The killing happened the day after the same paramilitary group burned down the community’s cooperative store.

Background of the case

On August 30, 2015, about 40 soldiers of the 36th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA), the 75th IBPA, Special Forces, and known members of the paramilitary group—who call themselves Magahat-Bagani Force/Marcos Bocales group—occupied the function hall and parts of the school grounds of the Aternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) in Sitio Han-ayan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

It was the day after the commemoration of the school’s Foundation Day. While there were visitors who stayed behind after the event, most of the visitors had already left. Those who stayed behind saw for themselves the soldiers and members of the paramilitary group in the community.

During the military and paramilitary encampment, elements of the 36th IBPA, 75th IBPA, SF, and members of the Bocales group threatened the school’s faculty members, staff, and the community members that they will be massacred, unless they leave in two days. Soldiers also asked community members of the whereabouts of Reynaldo Campos, ALCADEV coordinator; Norma Ampis, TRIFPSS executive director; Dionel Campos, MAPASU Chairperson; and, two other TRIFPSS teachers. The armed men also confiscated all cellphones and cameras from the residents and ALCADEV staff and remaining visitors in the community.

The following day, on August 31, the community cooperative store of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) was burned down by the paramilitary group. The soldiers also fired indiscriminately around the community. Thus, on the same day, the residents decided to go to the nearby community in Km. 16 to bring their family to safety. Late afternoon of the same day, half of the soldiers were seen leaving Han-ayan going towards Km. 16.

As residents and teachers were leaving Han-ayan, 25 soldiers in full battle gear of the 75th IBPA and three to five members of the paramilitary group, remained in the community.

The armed men took and detained Samarca, executive director of ALCADEV. The people who were leaving the community last saw Samarca tied around the neck, hands, and feet. He was brought inside one of the classrooms in the ALCADEV compound. A community member, who initially accompanied Samarca, was forced to run after the armed men beat him.

By the evening of August 31, ALCADEV faculty members and most of the residents were already in Km. 16. At around 4 a.m. on September 1, soldiers went from house to house and ordered residents to get out of their houses and to proceed to the center of the community.

Campos and cousin Sinzo, ALCADEV staff Belen Itallo, who were at the house of Josephine Pagalan, were ordered to sit at the foot of the stairs. Pagalan is spokesperson of the Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon sa Caraga (Kasalo Caraga or Organization of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in Caraga).

Some members of the paramilitary group said Itallo was seen in the company of the NPA in the mountains. Itallo, crippled by polio since childhood, reasoned out by showing her feet and saying it is not true because she has difficulty in walking. The armed men ordered Itallo to sit beside Campos. The community members were then ordered to “drop”. Immediately after, Bobby Tejero and brother Loloy Tejero, known members of the paramilitary group shot Campos on the head. Sinzo was also shot dead. Some 20 armed men fired indiscriminately around Campos, Sinzo and Itallo.

The community members saw the killing. Itallo, who ducked and just kept her eyes closed during the shooting, survived. The back of Campos’s head was blown off.

Later in the morning, the community members who went back to the ALCADEV campus found Samarca’s dead body. His throat was slit open, with the cut that ranged almost from ear to ear, his face bruised and almost unrecognizable.

At the time of the incident, most of the elements of the 36th IBPA and Special Forces were in Km. 9.

As of this writing, around 307 families of about 2,000 individuals have evacuated to Tandag City. They brought with them the remains of Samarca, Campos and Sinzo. They are awaiting assistance from the local government to act on the spate of killings perpetrated by the 36th IB-PA’s Magahat/Bagani Forces in their community and nearby barangays.

Since 2005, members of Mapasu and ALCADEV, who are active in the defense of Lumad ancestral lands against incursion by big business, have been victims of red tagging, trumped-up criminal charges, illegal arrests and detention, torture, and forced evacuation.

ALCADEV was established in July 19, 2004 as an alternative learning system especially designed to provide secondary education to indigent indigenous youth -the Manobo , Higaonon, Banwaon, Talaandig and Mamanwa – who live in the mountains of Surigao del Norte and Sur, Agusan del Norte and Sur. ALCADEV is born out of the joint efforts of indigenous peoples organizations in CARAGA region. MAPASU is a regional organization of indigenous people in Caraga and is well known for its strong stance against intrusion of mining companies in their communities.

The paramilitary group of Marcos Bocales, called Task Force Gantangan during the Arroyo regime’s Oplan Bantay Laya, may have changed its name into Magahat-Bagani Force. Despite the change in name however, the group continues to be armed and used by the military to sow division and terror among the Manobo-Lumad, using a worn-out trick of divide-and-rule. In 2014 alone, the group, under the auspices of the 36th IB-PA, was responsible for the killing of Henry Alameda and Aldren Dumaguit; the burning of the vehicle of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Surigao del Sur (KAMASS) – KMP; and, the burning of the cooperative store and school in Kabulohan, Brgy. Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur.

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling on the BS Aquino government to:

1. Immediately pull-out the 36th, 75th IB-PA and Special Forces from the Lumad community and dismantle the paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani Force.
2. Create an independent body to investigate on the killings and other human rights violations perpetrated by the 36th and 75th IB-PA and its paramilitary forces, the Magahat/Bagani Force.
3. Persecute the perpetrators of the extrajudicial killing and other human rights violations committed against the residents of Han-ayan and Km. 16 in Bgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
4. To withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which continues to victimize innocent and unarmed civilians.
5. Remind the Philippine government that it is bound to observe, promote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as it is a signatory to and a party to all the major Human Rights instruments.

We also call on all human rights advocates to extend humanitarian support to the 2,000 evacuees who are now in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.

You may send your communications to:

1. H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op [at] president [dot] gov [dot] ph

2. Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
Email: osnd [at] philonline [dot] com

3. Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Philippines
Padre Faura St., Manila, Philippines
Direct Line 521-1908
Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.211/214
Fax: (+632) 523-9548
Email: lmdelima [at] doj [dot] gov [dot] ph, lmdelima.doj [at] gmail [dot] com, lmdelima.doj2 [at] gmail [dot] com

4. Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, (+632) 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
E-mail: comsec [at] chr [dot] gov [dot] ph

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central,
Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
Email: urgentaction [at] karapatan [dot] org; karapatan [at] karapatan [dot] org
Website: www.karapatan.org

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Open letter to President Aquino on the recent massacre in Mindanao

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/opinion/2015/09/03/open-letter-president...

3 September 2015

“Arise, Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies.
Awake, my God; decree justice.” — Psalm 7:6

DEAR Mr. President,

Greetings of peace based on justice in the name of our Lord Christ!

Mr. President, the biblical verse above was a prayer of King David to Yahweh upon seeing the oppression done against the chosen People of God. It was in his utter indignation when the innocents were killed and their property looted. It is in this biblical context that we wish to share with you our “readings of the times,” hoping that as one country and nation, we will be able to equipped you with moral compass.

Mr. President, we, the National Priest Organization (NPO) and Council of Priest (COP); nationwide organizations of deacons and priests of Iglesia Filipina Independiente; after our thorough study, prayer and reflection of our national situation, decided to write you an open letter regarding the miserable state of human rights in our country today. As church people mandated by God to promote and defend the sanctity of life and liberate all persons from all forms of dehumanization (Aglipayan Spirituality), we are saddened and appalled, Mr. President, of how our fellow Filipinos especially the Lumads in Mindanao made to suffer by our own state security agents for the sake of so-called “developments” that in closer look will only benefit the Trans National Corporations and foreign capitalists but surely endanger the lives of our people and plunder the remaining resources left to us.

Mr. President, we are talking here of the massacre of three tribal leaders, harassment against teachers, students, and communities that caused displacements of hundreds of individuals in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. The circumstantial evidences are pointing to the 36th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army and to the paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani Forces as culprits.

Mr. President, it came to our knowledge through our bishops and priests residing in Mindanao that on September 1, 2015 at around 4 a.m. in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, Magahat Forces went around the neighborhood and told residents to proceed to the center of the community. As Dionel Campos and his cousin, Aurelio Sinzo, were standing at the stairs of the house of Josephine Pagalan, brothers Loloy and Bobby Tejero (both members of paramilitary Magahat), opened fire on the two men while some of the residents are still around and witnessed the killings. At around the same time, a dead body was found in one of the schoolrooms, tied around the neck and extremities, with a stab wound. It was the body of Emerico Samarca.

Prior to this event, on August 30, 2015, Mr. Amarca was seen by the residents tied in his neck, hands and feet. He was brought inside in one of the classrooms, was held and detained by some armed Magahat. This was witnessed by some members of the community and by the teachers themselves. On the same date, about 30 armed elements composed of known members of the Magahat/Bagani Forces and elements of the 36th IBPA and Special Forces occupied the function hall and some parts of the school grounds of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) in Sitio Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. During this military and paramilitary occupation, the school’s faculty, staff and community members were threatened by the Magahat/Bagani forces of massacre and were given two days to leave the community. On August 31, the community cooperative of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu) was burned down and the Magahat Forces fired indiscriminately around the community.

Bloodbath escalates in Mindanao

Mr. President, the massacre of Dionel Camos, Aurelio Sinzo and Emerico Samarca cannot just be delegated to ordinary crimes. Both Camos and Sinzo are members of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu) in which the former is the chairperson. On the other hand, Samarca is the executive director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev). The officers and members of Mapasu and Alcadev ever since strongly opposed the intrusion of Large Scale Mining and TNCs plantations — programs that aggressively campaigned by your administration — that will plunder their ancestral lands within and surrounding the Andap Valley.

Mr. President, the AFP as the “investment security forces” has employed the foulest means to deny the lumad people the necessary and relevant education because it means resistance against anti-people projects and steadfast defense of ancestral lands. Worst, they are responsible in organizing and arming the paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani. The same armed paramilitary group of Magahat-Bagani Forces led by Marcos Bocales was implicated in the killings of Henry Alameda and Aldren Dumaguit on October 24, 2014.

Mr. President, The AFP and their paramilitary groups have been attacking tribal schools run by the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS), the Alcadev and Mapasu. The lumad communities of Lianga, San Miguel and San Agustin have been demanding the dismantling of these paramilitary forces since last year. Complaints have been filed against them along with public condemnations of such acts. Instead of disbanding these paramilitary forces, the operating troops of the AFP, particularly the 36th IB PA and the Special Forces has stepped up their recruitment and their military operations.

AFP: Notorious human rights violators

Mr. President, for countless times the NPO and the COP along with the civil society, ecumenical churches, academe, and lawyers among many others have urged the government to end the killings in the Philippines perpetuated against development workers, human rights defenders, activists and community leaders who are critical to the anti-people programs of the state. Believing that we are in a democratic country, we take upon ourselves the innate duty as citizens to protect and defend our nation from the oppressive and exploitative laws and policies of the government and advance the cause that we believe will truly uplift our lives from the quagmire of hunger and poverty. But very seldom that our cries are heard, we suffer the brunt, instead. Many were killed, enforced disappeared, tortured, and summarily executed. The patterns of these crimes against humanity and all the circumstantial evidences pointed to the AFP as the culprit. This was even affirmed by international bodies like the Amnesty International, European Union,and even by the UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston.

Recommendations

Mr. President, in behalf of our Lumad brothers and sisters in Mindanao, we would like to appeal to your honorable office the following:

1. Ensure the safety of the lumads in the area and an assurance that none of this will happen again by:

a) Pulling out the presence of the military and dismantling the paramilitary forces that were organized and supported by the AFP in Mindanao.

b) Bring to justice the death of of Dionel Camos, Aurelio Sinzo and Emerico Samarca; allow independent fact finding missions and inquiries take its course.

c) Supporting the victims including displaced individuals and their families through financial assistance, foods, health care, and psycho social therapies.

2. Stop the militarization in Mindanao by ending the Oplan Bayanihan, a counter insurgency of your administration that has been responsible for extra-judicial killings, enforced disapperances, trumped up charges, tortures, massacres, and displacement of thousands of individuals.

3. Repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and stop the landgrabbing by trans-national corporations through their large-scale plantations.

Very Truly Yours,

(SGD) REV. FR. GILBERT GARCIA
Governor General, NPO

(SGD) JONASH JOYOHOY
Chairperson, COP

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PROSECUTE THE KILLERS OF LUMAD EDUCATOR & IPs, DISBAND PARAMILITARY GROUPSOS Network

Save Our Schools Network – https://saveourschoolsnetwork.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/prosecute-the-kil...

2 September 2015

In a press conference held early morning today, the Save Our Schools Network strongly condemned yet another case of extrajudicial killings of a lumad educator and IP leaders in Surigao del Sur yesterday.

On September 1, Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) executive director Emerito Samarca together with Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod (MaPaSu) chair Dionel Campos and his cousin Belio Sinzo were gunned down by elements of paramilitary armed group Magahat/Bagani forces. The said paramilitary group is under the auspices of the 36th Infantry Battalion of the AFP.

According to SOS Network spokesperson Kharlo Manano, the incident happened within the premises of ALCADEV campus at Sitio Han-Ayan, Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

‘This is outrageous! Truly, schools under the watch of the Aquino administration have become killing fields for even educators and lumad leaders who have shed sweat and tears in order to set up these schools are now being killed in these very grounds,’ Manano added.

Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development or ALCADEV is an alternative learning system especially designed to provide secondary education to indigent indigenous youth – the Manobo, Banwaon, Higanon, Talaandig, and Mamanwa of Surigao del Norte and Sur and Agusan Norte and Sur.

‘The new spate of killings will undoubtedly send waves of terror not only among the affected communities but also to other indigenous areas where lumad schools are operating,” said Manano.

Manano lamented that the ALCADEV has been established by lumads themselves with the help of cause-oriented groups. However, instead of recognizing their valuable contribution, the lumad community school has been subjected to harassment and malicious accusations of the state forces and their rabid paramilitary groups.

After the presscon, Manano together with the students and teachers of ALCADEV and Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao Sur (TRIFPSS) went to the senate. Manano said that they will also lobby the recent case to Senator Grace Poe who have initiated a book drive for the benefit of lumad community schools in Mindanao.

On the other hand, Manano urged the government to immediately conduct investigation and hold the perpetrators accountable. ‘We demand justice for this blatant human right violation! Perpetrators of this gruesome crime should be prosecuted and all means should be exhausted to disband all paramilitary groups and to pull out all military and paramilitary troops in the countrysides,’ he ended. ###

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God is Angry

Statement from Rural Missionaries of the Philippines- North Mindanao Region – http://www.rmp-nmr.org/articles/2015/09/02/god-angry

2 September 2015

“For God’s anger is being revealed from Heaven against all impiety and against the iniquity of men who through iniquity suppress the truth. God is angry.”—Roman 1: 18

It isn’t enough that we rage about the militarization of our communities. It isn’t enough that we condemn the impunity of paramilitary groups in the ancestral domains of our Lumad brothers and sisters. It isn’t enough to appeal that they stop killing us. They have not and they probably would not.

These beings have lost not only their ears, but also their hearts. The recent cold-blooded murder of Emerito Samarca, the executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), can only be done by someone bereft of his soul. Emerito Samarca, ‘Emok’ to his dear friends, was found stabbed in his stomach, with his feet and hands bound, his throat slit in the morning of September 1 this year. Before his body was found, Dionel Campos, the chairperson of the indigenous peoples’ organization in their community was shot to death, execution style, with his cousin, Bello Sinzo. They had long been accused of running the ALCADEV for the New People’s Army (NPA).

The ALCADEV was an institution that served a lot of poor indigenous families who could not afford to send their students to formal schools. Their only fault is that they taught their students the value of their ancestral lands, that the land is their life.

The Literacy and Numeracy schools run by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region in the provinces of Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte have suffered similar attacks. Our parateachers, our students and their parents, accused of being members of the NPA, have been sprayed with bullets, imprisoned for baseless accusations.

What we need to do is to fortify ourselves and make a unified stand. We have to be strong to demand prosecution. We do not simply call for the cessation of their heartless attacks. We seek – we act – for justice. For several years we have been targets of threats, harassments, of killings. We can end the impunity only by showing that we are not weak targets. We are not ready victims.

We are consoled by God’s promise of justice for those who have lived up to righteousness like Emok, Dionel, Bello, and countless others. They are prophets of indigenous right to education. For God is angry, and He will avenge them.

In solidarity with the schools, communities and people of Mindanao under attack, we fight on.

Sr. Ma. Famita N. Somogod, MSM
Coordinator
RMP-NMR Inc

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His Excellency Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace, JP Laurel St.
San Miguel, Manila Philippines

5 September 2015

A Letter to President Aquino on the intensifying human rights violations in Mindanao

“My government will be sincere in dealing with all the peoples of Mindanao. We are committed to a peaceful and just settlement of conflicts, inclusive of the interests of all – may they be Lumads, Bangsamoro or Christian.”

Dear Mr. President,

Greetings of peace!

Mr. President, the statement above was one of your promises to the people whom you referred to as “your boss” during your inaugural speech last June 30, 2010. You assured “your boss” of change through good governance. Your presidential term has yet to come to an end leaving the challenge to the 2016 presidentiables to continue the “legacy” of “Daang Matuwid.” You proudly stated in your last SONA, “Mga Boss, nanggaling tayo sa sitwasyon kung saan tila nababalot ng kadiliman ang ating bansa; ni hindi natin masigurong may liwanag pang paparating. Binabati na tayo ng bukang-liwayway ng katarungan at pagkakataon.” Such vision however, seems to be a far-off dream, worse it has become a nightmare for the Lumad communities in Mindanao.
We, from AMIHAN, a federation of peasant women in the country, decided to write you a letter regarding the disturbing massacre of three Lumad leaders and the harassment against teachers, students, and communities causing displacements of hundreds of families with almost 2, 000 individuals in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. According to the reports of the human rights group Karapatan, and based on the witnesses in the community, the 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani forces were the perpetrators.

On September 1, at around 4am in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, members of Magahat forces, AFP’s paramilitary group opened fire on Dionel Campos, his cousin Aurelio Sinzo, and Belen Itallo in the presence of community members. Campos and Sinzo died instantly while Itallo managed to survive. That same morning, Emerico Samarca’s body was found in one of the classrooms in the school compound of ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development). His body was seen with his throat slit open, with the cut that ranged from ear to ear, his face bruised and almost unrecognizable.

On August 30, two days before the incident, about 40 soldiers of the 36th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA), the 75th IBPA, Special Forces, and known members of the Magahat-Bagani Force occupied the function hall and parts of the school grounds of the ALCADEV in Sitio Han-ayan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. The military and paramilitary forces threatened the school’s faculty members, staff, and the community members that they will be massacred, unless they leave in two days. As residents and teachers were leaving Han-ayan, armed men took and detained Samarca, who was last seen by the residents tied around his neck, hands, and feet. On August 31, the community cooperative store of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) was burned down by the paramilitary group and fired indiscriminately around the community.

Both Campos and Sinzo are members of MAPASU in which the former is the chairperson, while Samarca is the executive director of ALCADEV, an alternative learning system especially designed to provide secondary education to indigent indigenous youth – the Manobo, Banwaon, Higanon, Talaandig, and Mamanwa of Surigao del Norte and Sur and Agusan Norte and Sur. Since the establishment of ALCADEV in 2004, it has served the interests of poor indigenous families that cannot afford to send their children to formal schools. It is ironic however, that at the same time, rights abuses against its staff and the Lumads have intensified due to the accusations that it is managed by the NPA.

We believe that the brutal killings and harassment in the community is being conducted because of the strong opposition of the Lumads and the community in the intrusion of large-scale mining companies and transnational corporations that will cause the destruction of their ancestral lands, their livelihood, their culture, and their lives. It is alarming that militarization has always been the answer of the government to the legitimate call of the indigenous people for their rights to land.

Even human rights workers and advocates are falsely charged with criminal offenses. We are talking about the 22 leaders of Church groups, people’s organization, human rights workers, and victims of human rights violations in Socsksargen (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City) who were charged with attempted murder in relation to an encounter between members of the New People’s Army and the 73rd IBPA in Brgy. Upper Suyan, Malapatan, Sarangani. They were also charged with violation of RA 7610 in relation to the evacuation of more than 400 B’laan who left their homes due to the military operations and human rights violations in their communities. They were the individuals who assisted the evacuees and those who participated in the fact-finding mission conducted in the area.

Your declaration in 2010 that:

“Palalakasin at palalaguin natin ang bilang ng ating kasundaluhan at kapulisan, hindi para tugunan ang interes ng mga naghahari-harian, ngunit para proteksyunan ang mamamayan. Itinataya nila ang kanilang buhay para mayroong pagkakataon sa katahimikan at kapayapaan sa sambayanan.”

has clearly been another broken promise, as the increasing military and paramilitary forces in the countryside especially in Mindanao continuously serve the interests of only a few ruling elite benefitting from the riches of the island that is supposedly owned and enjoyed by the majority of the people.

Mr. President, at the start of your presidential term, you mentioned:

“Sa mga nang-api sa sambayanan, wala akong karapatan na limutin ang inyong mga kasalanan… Ang sinumang nagkamali ay kailangang humarap sa hustisya. Hindi maaaring patuloy ang kalakaran ng walang pananagutan at tuloy na pang-aapi.”

We firmly believe that immediate action should be taken to end the cruelty in Lumad communities. Justice should be served to the victims of the violations.

We, in AMIHAN, in behalf of the Lumad, our fellow Filipinos, appeal to your honorable office to heed the voice of your boss and take immediate action:

1. Immediately pull-out the 36th, 75th IB-PA, 73rd IBPA and Special Forces from the Lumad communities and dismantle the paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani Force.
2. Create an independent body to investigate on the killings and other human rights violations perpetrated by the 36th, 75th IB-PA, 73rd IBPA and its paramilitary forces, the Magahat/Bagani Force.
3. Persecute the perpetrators of the extrajudicial killing and other human rights violations committed against the residents of Han-ayan and Km. 16 in Bgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur and in B’laan communities.
4. Withdraw the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which continues to victimize innocent and unarmed civilians.
5. Respect and observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as it is a signatory and party to all the major Human Rights instruments;

Very truly yours,

(SGD) ZENAIDA SORIANO
National Chairperson
Amihan

Address: 80-A Mapang-akit St.
Barangay Pinyahan, Quezon City
E-mail address: amihan_psntwmn [at] yahoo [dot] com

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Attacks on Mindanao Lumad schools and communities intensify as Aquino’s military goes berserk for Oplan Bayanihan

Statement of SAVE OUR SCHOOLS-MINDANAO NETWORK

3 September 2015

The last year of the Benigno S. Aquino presidency has meant a bloodbath for indigenous peoples and for Lumad education, two months after his State of the Nation Address where he gloated of figures that have purportedly addressed classroom shortages and increased the quality of Philippine education.

Emerito ‘Tatay Emok’ Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development, Inc. (ALCADEV) and a convenor of the Save Our Schools Network was killed by government-backed indigenous paramilitary forces. His body was found lying in a pool of blood, with stab wounds on his neck, and his throat slit. While Dionel Campos, chairperson of MAPASU (Persevering Struggle for Future Manobo Generations), and his cousin Aurelio “Bello” Sinzo, were strafed dead before the terrified community of Han-ayan, Lianga town, Surigao del Sur province.

The paramilitary group Magahat—- armed, controlled, and commanded by the 36th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army—- burned down the school cooperative building and threatened to massacre the entire community if they would not leave the area two days before the killing of the Samarca, Campos, and Sinzo in the morning of September 1, 2015.

The dastardly crime which was perpetrated at dawn and later carried out in broad daylight, terrified the erstwhile peaceful Manobo school and community. As of this writing, the number of evacuees in Caraga has swelled to 3,000 individuals or more than 500 families coming from the municipalities of San Miguel and Lianga, with some 70 families still lost in nearby forests.

The Philippine military’s attack on ALCADEV using indigenous paramilitaries is by far the gravest and most vicious violation of indigenous peoples’ right to education and constitutes a wholesale violation of children’s rights.

Moreover, as schools are an integral part of communities, the attack is an open declaration of the Philippine state’s war of annihilation against people’s organizations and communities resisting foreign largescale plunder of ancestral domains.

The 36th IB Philippine Army-Magahat rampage at the ALCADEV School shows that the Aquino government has dropped all pretenses of adhering to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights instruments. It also demonstrates the irrefutable crimes of the Philippine Army against indigenous children which the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and the Armed Conflict has continually glossed over, understated, or consistently concealed in its annual reports.

The Philippine government’s attacks on the ALCADEV School clearly shows its contempt towards self-determined development asserted by indigenous communities. Alternative Lumad schools are pushing for their own culturally-relevant pedagogy that liberates indigenous peoples from the yoke of institutionalized discrimination and corporate plunder of ancestral lands.

These Ethnocidal attacks on indigenous education, indigenous leaders and their staunch advocates and supporters are but the latest in a string of Aquino’s orders to tighten the noose on Lumad schools:

1. Since April of 2014 up to present, 25 Lumad schools and community schools were forced to halt operations for the entire month of June due to harassment by the AFP and sanctioned by the Department of Education (DepEd).

2. At least 84 cases of attacks on 57 community schools have displaced and disrupted the education of over 3, 000 Lumad children.

3. Three minors were brutally killed by the elements of 3rd Company of the1st Special Forces Battalion under the ground commander Capt. Balatbat with Col. Nasser Lidasan as Battalion Commander on August 19, 2015 in Pangatukan town, Bukidnon province. They were part of 5 Manobo tribals strafed and killed on suspicion of being NPA combatants.

4. The schooling of Lumad children under the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) was disrupted when residents of Brgy. Siagao, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur were displaced. The victims were killed by an armed group led by Hasmin and elements of the 36th IBPA.

5. A Lumad child was among 14 farmers in White Culaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon who were illegally detained and arrested by elements of 8th IB ug 23rd IB headed by Nicolas Rivera and an official named Tocmo. All were accused as members of the New People’s Army in contrast to the fact that they are members of organizations Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Barangay White Culaman ( NAMABAW) and Tinananon Kulamanon Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa Arakan (TIKULPA). The Army threatened to burn down the MISFI-run (Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Incorporated) school which offers 7th and 8th grade education in Sitio Dao, Bukidnon.

6. Adding to these abuses is the ongoing mass evacuation of the Talaingod Manobo people in Davao City since April of this year due to intensified military operations and threats from the terrorist paramilitary group ALAMARA. Around 1, 000 individuals from San Fernando Bukidnon, Kapalong and Talaingod, Davao del Norte have sought sanctuary at UCCP Haran, Davao City. Learners from Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc (STTILCI) in Talaingod have been holding their classes at the refugee camp since the evacuation started. Worse, three soldiers of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade raped a 14-year old Manobo grade 4 student of the Butay elementary school while conducting military operations in the area.

7. Last month, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao schools in Agusan del Sur and Bukidnon have earlier reported harassments and threats from suspected state forces in the form of anonymous text messages, private message via facebook, and surveillances. In March 18, 2014, an RMP-NMR school grounds in Binikalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur was strafed by 26th IB troops disrupting the graduation practice of the school. In Sarangani province, administrators and faculty of the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services (CLANS) which provides education to indigenous Blaan children have been filed with false criminal charges of serious illegal detention of evacuees and inciting to sedition.

The Aquino government should be held accountable for all these violations. It is responsible for the formation and arming of the paramilitary groups, the paving the way for the enty of largescale destructive projects in the ancestral domains, the sowing of disunity among IPs, and the killings that have claimed the lives of many.

The Save Our Schools Network demands Justice for Samarca, Campos, Sinzo and all victims of human rights abuses! End all forms of attacks on schools and communities!

Reference:
Prof. Mae Fe Templa, MSW
Convenor, Save Our Schools Network
+639256682458

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Anakbayan-USA condemns killing of a Lumad educator and tribal leaders, militarization of indigenous schools

Anakbayan-USA statement

1 September 2015

USA — National Filipino youth organization Anakbayan-USA condemns the torture and extrajudicial killing of an indigenous Lumad educator and tribals leaders by suspected elements of the 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and their paramilitary Magahat Bagani Forces at the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) tribal school in Sitio Han-ayan, Surigao Del Sur, Mindanao on the morning of August 30, 2015. Those killed include Emerito Samarca, executive director of ALCADEV, Dionel Campos, chairperson of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo.

ALCADEV is an alternative school built by the Lumad community to provide basic and secondary education to Lumad youth and the rest of the indigenous communities in Surigao Del Sur. The schools provide culturally-relevant education in literacy, agricultural production, and the right to defend their ancestral lands. It has been accused and labelled by the Philippine military as a “rebel school.”

Currently, more than 400 families, totaling 2000 people, have evacuated the area after soldiers threatened to massacre them. “There is a disturbing pattern of intensified attacks by government forces on indigenous schools and communities all across Mindanao. These attacks against civilians are brazen acts of state terrorism by the Philippine government,” said Yves Nibungco, national chairperson of Anakbayan-USA.

According to Anakbayan-USA, this spate of human rights violations is part of President Benigno Aquino III’s ‘desperate attempt’ to eliminate the resistance of indigenous communities against the entry of large-scale mining, logging companies and plantations in the area. “These human rights violations, military operations on communities, and killings of community leaders are products of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan, wherein the Philippine military is serving as an ‘investment defense force,’ or as a private military for large corporations,” said Nibungco.

Oplan Bayanihan is President Benigno Aquino III’s counterinsurgency program aimed at defeating the New People’s Army, which has been engaged in a civil war with the Philippine government for 46 years.

Anakbayan-USA also pointed out the role of the U.S. government in aggravating the human rights situation in the Philippines. “Oplan Bayanihan is patterned directly from the U.S. Counterinsurgency (COIN) Guide released in 2009. The U.S. has been complicit and has continued to condone these atrocities through its $50 million annual military aid to the Philippine military,” said Nibungco.

“We demand that the U.S. government immediately cut off all financial support for the Philippine military. We demand an end to the Oplan Bayanihan counter insurgency program. We call for an immediate pull out of the 36th Infantry Battalion and the dismantling of their paramilitary army, the Magahat Bagani Forces. We demand justice for Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, Aurelio Sinzo and all the victims of militarization in Mindanao. Aquino has blood on his hands and must be held accountable,” Nibungco concluded.

Reference: Yves Nibungco, National Chairperson, Anakbayan-USA
chair [at] anakbayanusa [dot] org, 2015399199

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Aquino’s Last Year: A Bloodbath for the Indigenous Peoples

13 Lumads extra-judically killed; 4 massacres in 8 months

2 September 2015

Urgent Alert of KATRIBU on the recent attacks of the Aquino Government against the Lumad Communities

On September 1, 2015, at the break of dawn, the Magahat/Bagani Forces killed 2 lumads and a staunch supporter of the indigenous peoples right to education in Diatagon, Lianga. Surigao del Sur. Killed were Dionel “Onel” Campos, Chairperson of the MAPASU (Continuing Struggle for the Next Generation), a lumad organization in Surigao del Sur covering almost 30 Manobo communities, his cousin Aurello “Bello” Sinzo, and Emerito “Emok” Samarca, the executive director of the ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development), the pioneer indigenous high school in the Caraga Region. As of this writing, around 2000 Manobo from Diatagon have fled and sought sanctuary in other communities and in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.

In August of this year, the 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) together with the Magahat/Bagani Force have conducted renewed military operations and encamped in communities in Surigao del Sur. The Magahat/Bagani Force is one of the paramilitary groups formed, armed, and supported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Mindanao.

Onel and Bello are now the 67th and 68th victim of extra-judicial killings under the BS Aquino regime. They are also among the 13 lumads or indigenous peoples in Mindanao killed since March of this year.

On August 18, the 1st Special Forces Battalion massacred Emer and Welmer Somina, and Norman, Herminio and Jobert Samia in Pangantucan, Bukidnon. The military was quick in covering up by announcing to the media that they had an armed encounter with members of the New People’s Army (NPA). The victims were members of the Manobo Farmers Association. Emer Somina and Norman Samia are aged 17 and 14.

On August 9, the Magahat/Bagani forces and 36th IBPA encamped in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. They interrogated, harassed and threatened members of the community, school teachers and staff, pointed guns at civilians and accused them of being members of the NPA. This led to the evacuation of around 108 families with an approximate 543 individuals from the village of Bolhoon, San Miguel. Due to the continued military operations, on August 30, the number of evacuees has peaked to 2,262 individuals with 420 families coming from several villages of San Miguel.

For the past months, the Aquino regime through the AFP, the Bagani forces and other paramilitary groups have committed the gravest crimes against the lumad communities in Mindanao. From March to September 1 2015, thirteen (13) lumad leaders, activists, community members that include two children were killed in 5 incidents of extra-judicial killings and 4 massacres. There were at least 6 incidents of forced evacuations from the provinces of Saranggani, Bukidnon, Davao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur that involved more than 4,000 individuals, mostly indigenous peoples. They fled their homes and communities, some since May up to the present, due to heavy military presence and intense combat operations in their respective communities.

Twenty-five (25) lumad schools and community schools catering to indigenous communities were pushed to halt operations for the entire month of June due to harassment by the AFP and sanctioned by the Department of Education (DepEd). From June 2010, there were at least 84 cases of attacks on 57 community schools that affected thousands of lumad children. These attacks are in the form of the threats, encampment, destruction and divestment of properties, vilification, forced evacuation, harassments and intimidation of students, teachers, and more recently, the brutal murder of Emerito “Emok” Samarca, the executive director of the ALCADEV. In August, some of the elementary schools and the high school in San Miguel and Diatagon have suspended their classes.

Since 2012, there has been a marked increase in the deployment of military troops in Mindanao. Currently, 55 combat battalions or more than 50% of the AFP forces are deployed in Mindanao. And since then, human rights violation against the lumad communities have risen to alarming proportions.

The Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), a military command operating in Mindanao which is a part of the state’s killing and terror machinery, announced in January 2015 that they have until 2016 to clear out the Davao and Caraga Regions from the New People’s Army (NPA) and declare the victory of the Oplan Bayanihan. Recently, the EastMinCom was acclaimed by BS Aquino for its “excellence.” They boasted of their trophies – the numbers of killed, captured, arrested, and surrendered “NPAs”.

However, the numerous cases of human rights violations, the cooptation of indigenous peoples’ socio-political systems and active division of our communities and the filing of trumped-up charges against indigenous leaders and members are the actual results of the Oplan Bayanihan.

Aquino’s counter insurgency program, the Oplan Bayanihan, is aimed to crush a persistent armed revolutionary movement in the country. But in actuality, Oplan Bayanihan also targets the legal opposition and resistance of people’s organizations and communities to secure the business interests of the foreign corporations and their local big business partners. The Oplan Bayanihan was implemented by BS Aquino in January 2011 right after it extended the dreaded and brutal Oplan Bantay Laya of the Arroyo regime. Heavy military deployment and intensive military operations are conducted in indigenous communities and territories. Indigenous peoples’ legitimate defense of their rights, land and resources against plunder and land grabbing are responded to by violence. Resisting communities suffer grave human rights violations.

We expect and dread the exacerbation of human rights violations with impunity against indigenous communities in the last remaining 9 months of the BS Aquino Regime with the continuation of the Oplan Bayanihan.

We urgently appeal for support to STOP THE KILLINGS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN THE PHILIPPINES!

1. End the widespread militarization of indigenous communities and blatant violation of IP’s collective and human rights
2. Immediately conduct an independent and transparent investigation of the 68 extra-judicial killings under the Aquino regime
3. Justice for the 168 extra-judicial killings under the Arroyo regime and all victims of human rights violations. Arrest, prosecute and punish all perpetrators of human rights violations
4. End the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians
5. Pull out military and paramilitary troops from indigenous communities. Dismantle the Sanmatrida, Salawakan, Triom, Task Force Gantangan, Bulif, Alamara, Magahat, Bagani Force, and other paramilitary groups and private armies
6. Revoke the Executive Order 546 which legitimizes the formation of paramilitary groups
7. Stop all destructive projects in ancestral territories. Review all permit of large-scale mining, energy and hydro-electric plants, agri-business plantations, and commercial logging
8. Uphold the indigenous peoples’ rights to land and self-determination!

You may send in letters of concerns to the following:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632)564-1451 to 80
Fax: (+632)742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op [at] president [dot] gov [dot] ph

Atty. Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo
Chairperson, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
2nd Floor N. dela Merced Bldg.
Corner West & Quezon Avenue, Quezon City
Telefax: (632) 373-9534/ 373-9787
E-mail: chairpersonoffice [at] gmail [dot] com, oed.ncip [at] gmail [dot] com, ncipexecdirector [at] gmail [dot] com

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I, Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
stqd.papp [at] opapp [dot] gov [dot] ph

Hon. Severo Catura
Presidential Human Rights Committee
Malacañang Palace, Manila Philippines
Fax: (+632) 734-6761
E-mail: phrc.phil [at] gmail [dot] com

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, EDSA, Quezon City
Voice: (+632) 911-6193/ 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email:osnd [at] philonline [dot] com, dnd.opla [at] gmail [dot] com

Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-1908
Fax: (+632) 523-9548
Email: lmdelima [at] doj [dot] gov [dot] ph, lmdelima.doj [at] gmail [dot] com, lmdelima.doj2 [at] gmail [dot] com

Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
E-mail: mmarianomaravilla [at] yahoo [dot] com, aelzy.ofreneo [at] gmail [dot] com

Cong. Guillermo A. Rumarate, Jr.
Chairperson, Human Rights Committee, Philippine Congress
3/F Ramon V. Mitra Buillding, House of Representatives, Quezon City
Voice (632) 9315001 local 7157
Telefax: (632) 9324803

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
Chairperson, Justice and Human Rights Committee, Philippine Senate
Rm. 512 GSIS Bldg., Financial Center, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City
Voice: (632) 822-9758
Fax: (632) 822-9759
Email: kokopimenteloffice [at] yahoo [dot] com

And please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to:

KATRIBU Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas
and Stop the Killings of Indigenous Peoples! Network
3/F National Council of Churches in the Philippines Buildning, #879 EDSA, Barangay West Triangle, Quezon City 1104 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 412 5340
Email: kamp_phils [at] yahoo [dot] com

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Statement of the Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC)

CDPC DEMANDS JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF SEPTEMBER 1
LIANGGA SURIGAO DEL SUR MASSACRE
JUSTICE FOR EMERITO, DIONEL AND AURELIO!

The CDPC (Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera) network strongly condemns the inhumane murder of Emerito “Emuk” Samarca, Executive Director of Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), Dionel Campos, Chairperson of MAPASU (Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation), and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo. The massacre of the three colleagues in alternative development work in a remote and deprived community of Liangga, Surigao Del Sur on September 1, 2015 is a very recent act of genocide because it systematically eliminate Indigenous People. This is part of fascism by the Aquino government; Oplan Bayanihan.

As NGO partner in advocating pro-people alternative development, ALCADEV since its establishment in 2004 has been providing educational assistance to as well as enhancing sustainable agricultural practices among lumad communities in the CARAGA region through its partnership with People’s Organizations represented by MAPASU. Emerito or Emuk to many and Dionel together with community members and other leaders like Aurelio have gone through many difficulties and trials in their struggles to reach the better living situation that they had achieved before the massacre happened.

Alcadev, successful running alternative school is one of the fruits of the struggles, unity and perseverance of the Lumads in Liangga Surigao Del Sur. ALCADEV and MAPASU was given recognition by the national government through the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS) for its noble achievement in literacy program for the lumad people.Even with such recognition, they continuously faced threats for their lives and vilification from the government through the Armed Forces of the Philippines and para-military groups (MAGAHAT/BAGANI FORCES) ) assigned in the area until this extra-judicial killings of these 3 leaders and champions of the Lumads.

More development programs and activist development workers in the country are experiencing the same fate. State security forces try to stop and hinder pro- people development programs and efforts by the communities by filing trumped-up charges against community development activist workers and human rights defenders and advocates.

We are deeply saddened and angered for losing collegues in the advancement of peoples’ rights to genuine development, by this systemic vicious act of the state against development activist workers and human rights defenders and advocates.

As we mourn and turn over our anger to positive action, we join hands with partner NGOs and POs and other civil society organizations at the local level and in the international community to demand for immediate justice for Emerito, Dionel, Aurelio, and to all victims of this horrible and inhumane act. These injustices and impunity will bring more people to rise and fight for peoples’ rights and genuine development of the people.

Respect peoples’ rights to development!
Immediate Justice for the victims of Lianga massacre!
Stop vilification and extra-judicial killings of development and human rights activists!
End impunity and the fascist nature of the Philippine government!

Cathedral of the Resurrection Church Compound, Lower Magsaysay Avenue, 2600 Baguio City
Cordillera Administrative Region, Northern Luzon, Philippines
Telefax: (074) 424-3764 Email: cdpckordi [at] cdpckordilyera [dot] org; cdpc.envi [at] gmail [dot] com; Web: cdpckordilyera.org

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Statement of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCODEV) and Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS)

1 September 2015

WE DEMAND JUSTICE FOR THE KILLING OF TATAY EMOK, ONEL, BELLO BY THE 36TH IBPA AND THE MAGAHAT PARAMILITARY FORCES

https://www.facebook.com/PNFSP/posts/871854529517247

We strongly condemn and demand justice for the killing of EMERITO “Tatay Emok” SAMARCA, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV); DIONEL “Onel” CAMPOS, Chairperson of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) and his cousin BELLO SINZO.

The three were killed by members of the bandit group Magahat/Bagani paramilitary forces early morning today, September 1, at the school grounds of the ALCADEV and Han-ayan Tribal Community School in Han-ayan and Km. 16, Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur respectively. We also condemn the indiscriminate firing and burning of the community cooperative of MAPASU of the 36TH IBPA and the Magahat bandit group and the resulting forced evacuation of communities within and surrounding these tribal schools.

The bandit Magahat/Bagani paramilitary forces are with the 36th IB PA and Special Forces in their military operation and encampment of the community since August 30. The military and paramilitary forces threatened the school’s faculty, staff and community members of massacre and were given two days to leave the community. EMERITO SAMARCA was held and detained by some armed Magahat. He was last seen tied around the neck, his hands and feet also tied and brought inside one of the classrooms. He was tortured and stabbed to death and left inside one of the ALCADEV classrooms. DIONEL CAMPOS and his cousin, AURELIO SINZO, were about to go to the center of the community as demanded by the paramilitary forces when MAGAHAT MEMBERS, BROTHERS LOLOY and BOBBY TEJERO, opened fire on the two men.

These latest killings and attack against the teachers, staff, tribal schools and community leaders and members are meant to destroy the unity of the lumad people who have been strong in resisting the plunder of their ancestral lands within and surrounding the Andap Valley Complex by large scale mining and plantations pushed by the Benigno Aquino government. The AFP, Aquino’s “investment security forces” have employed the foulest means to deny the lumad people education and development because it means resistance against anti-people projects and steadfast defense of ancestral lands.

The AFP has to answer for having organized and backed up the Magahat/Bagani paramilitary forces in their rampage because the Magahat/Bagani paramilitary forces was organized and is under the command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The lumad communities of Lianga, San Miguel and San Agustin have been demanding the dismantling of these paramilitary forces since last year.

Complaints have been filed against them along with public condemnations of such acts. Instead of disbanding these paramilitary forces, the operating troops of the AFP, particularly the 36th IB PA and the Special Forces have stepped up their recruitment and employed them in their military operations, committing human rights abuses. They have been attacking tribal schools run by the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) and ALCADEV and our institutions.

JUSTICE FOR TATAY EMOK, ONEL, BELLO!
STOP THE KILLINGS!
IMMEDIATELY DISBAND AND PERSECUTE THE KILLERS!
STOP THE COLLUSION OF THE PARAMILITARY FORCES AND THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES!

Reference:
Annabelle Campos 09073301184
Aivy Hora 0948901 7029
Bp. Modesto Villasanta, UCCP 09286920141

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Philippines: Stop turning Mindanao into a killing field of Lumads

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) Public Statement

3 September 2015

AIPP strongly condemns the continued brutal killings of Lumads in Mindanao of the Philippines at the hands of paramilitary groups and security forces. At least 13 Lumad human rights defenders and community members, including two children, have been killed in five incidents of extrajudicial killings and four massacres in the past eight months, with the recent killings of Emerito Samarca, Executive Director of a tribal school, and two other Lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur on 1 September. In the aftermath of the killings, more than 4000 Lumads evacuated to a neighboring village due to fear for their safety, and schools have been closed down.

The targeted killings of Emerito Samarca, regarded as pioneer of alternative education system for disadvantaged indigenous youth, and the two tribal leaders, once again unleashes the spate of state-sponsored terror against its own people, especially the Lumads in Mindanao. Less than two weeks ago, military had allegedly massacred five farmers in Bukidnon – two of them were minors. This has brought the total number of extrajudicial killings to 68 under the incumbent Aquino regime. In almost all of the killings, the victims were falsely framed as members and supporters of New Peoples Army. Ground reports show that all the victims of recent spate of killings were innocent civilians – among them, some were leaders and advocates of the Lumads’ rights.

The increasing figure of extrajudicial killings under the current Aquino government, particularly targeting Lumads and other indigenous peoples in the Philippines, is a clear indication of its failure to protect and respect the inherent rights to life and dignity of its citizens. Killings of innocent civilians at the hands of paramilitary and security forces are gross violations of human rights that demand immediate justice.

AIPP is deeply alarmed by the fact that the reason behind heavy militarization of Lumad communities in Mindanao – half of all the Armed Forces of the Philippines are deployed in the region – is merely to protect the interests of mining companies and other corporate entities to loot and plunder the vast mineral resources from Lumad lands and territories. The use of excessive violence by State security forces to respond to the Lumads’ legitimate defense of their rights to land, territories and resources against plunder and land grabbing is resulting in gross human rights violations. By now, thousands of Lumads are living in evacuation camps across the region because of this militarization.

Fresh incidents of violence, despite strong recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons after his recent country visit to the Philippines, including to the region of Mindanao, in August clearly demonstrate the lack of political will of the Government to adhere to its international human rights obligations. They also exemplify the worsening discrimination against and unjust treatment of indigenous peoples, including the right to education of indigenous children. Asserting that some leaders and members of the indigenous communities have been killed over the past years reportedly due to their anti-mining activities, the Special Rapporteur urged the Government, in consultation with indigenous peoples, to give greater attention to addressing the causes of displacement whether it is due to the militarization of their areas or development projects.

Victims of any of the killings and massacres have not been provided justice. AIPP denounces, in the strongest terms, the prevailing culture of impunity for such heinous crimes. The immunity provided to paramilitary and security forces as an integral part of Aquino’s counter-insurgency program ‘Oplan Bayanihan’ must end if it is to provide any justice to the victims.

AIPP calls on the concerned Filipino authorities to promptly conduct an independent and transparent investigation of all the extrajudicial killings under the current regime. It appeals for an immediate end to the militarization in indigenous communities, including termination of the counter-insurgency program ‘Oplan Bayanihan’, withdrawal of military and paramilitary troops from the communities and dismantling of private armies. It also urges the Government to revoke the Executive Order 546, which legitimizes formation of such paramilitary groups.

Further, AIPP appeals to the Filipino government to immediately stop all destructive projects in ancestral territories, including mining, hydroelectricity and logging and uphold the rights of indigenous peoples, including their rights to lands, territories and resources and self-determination, in line with its international human rights obligations. AIPP also calls on the government to implement the recommendations of the former Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, contained in his report to the Human Rights Council A/HRC/11/2/Add.8 29 April 2009 and the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, with regards to the situation of internally displaced indigenous peoples.

Please see the attached Urgent Appeal for additional information and send letters of concern to the concerned authorities.

For media inquiries

Joan Carling, Secretary-General, AIPP, +66-(0)85-694-0100, joan [at] aippnet [dot] org

Prabindra Shakya, Human Rights Campaign and Policy Advocacy Programmme Coordinator, AIPP, +66-(0)90-319-7751, prabin [at] aippnet [dot] org
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
Research and Communication Development Programme
www.aippnet.org, www.ccmin.aippnet.org, www.iphrdefenders.net, www.iva.aippnet.org

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Stop the killings of indigenous peoples and advocates in Mindanao!

Statement of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)

2 September 2015

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) is outraged by the killing rampage of paramilitary groups and State security forces in Mindanao against Lumad activists, environmentalists, human rights defenders, educators and advocates for the indigenous peoples. CPA condemns these killings in the highest terms possible.

The long-time collusion of notorious paramilitary groups and State security forces in Mindanao resulted in the long list of killings, enforced disappearances, evacuations against the Lumads and advocates for peace, human rights and environment. The recent spate of killings in Mindanao mirrors the height of impunity under the BS Aquino regime. In his last year in power, BS Aquino is unleashing its deadly attack against human rights, environmental defenders and peace advocates.

Based on data provided by Karapatan, on September 1, 2015, two Lumad leaders and a champion for indigenous people’s education in Mindanao were killed in Surigao del Sur. Emerito Samarca, the executive director of ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development) was gunned down by paramilitary forces Mahagat/Bagani within the ALCADEV campus in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Samarca was found dead in a classroom in Alcadev with a stab wound, and his neck, arms and legs tied up. On the other hand, Dionel Campos, chairperson of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo were killed by the same paramilitary forces while they were coming out of a house in Diatagon, Surigao del Sur.

Karapatan further stated that two days prior to the killing, the paramilitary group 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, staffs and community members that they will massacre the community if the people will not leave in two days.

On August 31, 2015, the MAGAHAT group burned down the community cooperative store of MAPASU while indiscriminately firing around the community. Samarca, according to initial report was held and detained by some armed members of Magahat before he was killed. On the evening of August 31, the Alcadev faculty and most of the residents in Han-ayan went to Km. 16 for safety. At around 4 a.m., Magahat Forces went from house to house in Km. 16 and ordered the residents to get out of their houses and go to the center of the community. That was when Campos and Sinzo were met by a volley of gunfire from brothers Loloy and Bobby Tejero of the Magahat/Bagani Force.

Magahat members also confiscated all cellphones and cameras from the residents and ALCADEV staff and remaining visitors in the community.

ALCADEV is an alternative learning system especially designed to provide secondary education to indigent indigenous youth – the Manobo, Banwaon, Higanon, Talaandig, and Mamanwa of Surigao del Norte and Sur and Agusan Norte and Sur. ALCADEV have been established by Lumads themselves with the help of cause-oriented groups. However, instead of recognizing their valuable contribution, the Lumad community school has been subjected to harassment and malicious accusations of the 36th IB and their rabid paramilitary groups that ALCADEV is a NPA school.

The killing rampage by the Magahat forces also resulted to the massive evacuation of more than 4, 000 Lumad families from their communities in Surigao del Sur.

We should hold BS Aquino accountable to these heinous crimes committed against people. We also call on peace loving people to support the indigenous peoples in Mindanao at these difficult times. We should support them in their calls to demand justice for the victims. We also urged the government to conduct an investigation and prosecute the Mahagat/Bagani forces. Lastly, we call for the immediate pull out of military in indigenous communities, disbanding and dismantling of paramilitary forces in Mindanao.

For reference:

Abigail Anongos
Secretary General
CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE
No. 55 Ferguson Road
Baguio City 2600, Philippines
Telephone No: +63 74 4229754
Fax No: +63 74 4437159
Website: www.cpaphils.org