Philippines: Five Manobo massacred by 1st Special Forces Battalion

Source: 
Karapatan
Date of publication: 
30 August, 2015

Appeal for Action: Five Manobo massacred by 1st Special Forces Battalion

UA Date: August 30, 2015

UA Case: Massacre/Extrajudicial Killing, Frustrated Killing, Use of Civilian in Police and/or Military Operations as Guides and/or Shield, Use of Schools, Medical, Religious and other Public Places for Military Purpose, Endangerment of Civilians

Victim/s :

Massacre: Emer Somina – Male, 17years old – Manobo

Welmer Somina – Male, 19 years old – Manobo farmer

Norman Samia – Male, 14 years old – Manobo

Herminio Samia – Male, 70 years old – Manobo farmer

Jobert Samia – Male, 70 years old – Manobo farmer – blind

Frustrated Killing:

(Name withheld) – 15 years old – Manobo farmer

Place of Incident :

Sitio Mandum, Brgy. Mendis, Pangantucan, Bukidnon

Date of Incident : August 18, 3015

Alleged Perpetrator(s) :

3rd Company of the1st Special Forces Battalion under the ground commander Capt. Balatbat ; Col. Nasser Lidasan as Battalion Commander

Account of the Incident:

On August 18, 2015, Herminio Samia, 70, his son Jobert, 20, his grandson Norman, 13 and his nephews Emer and Welmer Somina had lunch at his house at Sitio Mandum, Brgy. Mendis, Pangantucan, Bukidnon. A 15 year-old relative whose name is withheld was also with them.

At around 3p.m., they heard a series of gun fire from the forest. Jobert immediately suggested to go to a safer place but Herminio advised otherwise. Herminio can no longer take long walks for he is old and blind. He said they were civilians and they have nothing to do with the fight. The gun fire lasted for more than one hour.

At 5p.m., when the gun firehad subsided, they heard someone from outside the house shouted, ‘Kayong mga NPA na nandyan sa itaas ng bahay, lumabas kayo diyan at bumaba dito!’ (You NPA inside the house get out and get down here!) The boys were forced to come down and immediately saw the soldiers who ordered them to raise their hands. Herminio, on the other hand, explained it is difficult for him to go down because he is blind but a soldier retorted while cursing, ‘Litse, bakit hindi makababa ay meron namang hagdan!? (How can you not come down when there is a stair’). Herminio obliged and struggled to come down the house. Being blind, Herminio did not know where to go and started to stray until he reached a coffee tree. The soldiers shot Herminio. Then they shot his nephew Emer. The eye witness was the next target but he was able to run. He hid behind big rocks, which became his cover until he could reach the house of Orenio Samia, his uncle.

The next day, 27 residents, including barangay councilor Isabero Sulda checked Herminio’s place. When they arrived they saw about 22 soldiers who ordered them to line up. The soldiers took pictures of the 27 villagers and listed down their names. They were also warned not to look at the soldiers as they collected the dead bodies.

They saw five dead bodies in the vicinity of Herminio’s house. Herminio Samia’s body was found near the coffee tree. He was shot at the stomach, his intestines exposed and has an exit wound at the back. Emer Somina’s body was found near the house’s door. Norman Samia was found a few steps away, with his ear removed from his head and his jaw broken. Welmer’s left hand was cut off from his wrist and had a gunshot on his nose, which disfigured his face. Jobert’s body was found near Welmer’s.

The soldiers provided the residents with plastic canvass to transport the remains. They were ordered to take the bodies to the grassy part on the top of the hill where they will be loaded to a helicopter. At the hilltop, the residents were told to prepare the area where the helicopter could land. But then it rained. So they were told to move the bodies to the barangay hall at Madum, Mendis. The soldiers went with them.

The 15 year old witness, after having narrated to his uncle what he saw, was traumatized and has not spoken since the

As of this writing, members of the the 1st Special Forces Battalion are still encamped at the barangay hall and at the day care center in the same village where the Samias and Seminos were killed.

Recommended Action:

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

1. Immediately form an independent investigation composed of representative from human rights groups, churches, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into the massacre of Herminio, Jobert and Norman Samia and Emer and Welmer Somina.

2. Immediately prosecute the soldiers involved in the massacre;

3. Withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians.

4. Remind the Philippine Government that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacanang 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

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
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

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) 911-6193 / 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
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.doj [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, (+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
Website: www.karapatan.org

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Condemn killing of 5 Manobo people by 1st Special Forces Battalion

H E Benigno Simeon Aquino III
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
E-mail: op [at] president [dot] gov [dot] ph

September 4, 2015

Dear Excellency,

The Canadian Chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines joins the Filipino human rights defenders, educators, people’s organizations and international rights groups in strongly condemning the massacre of five Manobo farmers at Sitio Mandum, Brgy. Mendis, Pangantucan, Bukidnon on August 18 2015.

Those killed were Emer Somina, aged 17, Welmer Somina, aged 19, Norman Samia, Aged 14, Herminio Samia, aged 70, Jobert Samia, aged 70. As well, a 15 year-old who witnessed the massacre was able to escape.

The perpetrators of this crime are alleged to be the 3rd Company of the 1st Special Forces Battalion, commanded by Capt. Balatbat. Col. Nasser Lidasan was the Battalion Commander

On August 18, 2015, Herminio Samia, 70, his son Jobert, 20, his grandson Norman, 13 and his nephews Emer and Welmer Somina had lunch at his house at Sitio Mandum, Brgy. Mendis, Pangantucan, Bukidnon. A 15 year-old relative whose name is withheld was also with them.

According to the KARAPATAN report, at around 3pm on August 18, 2015, these six farmers heard gun fire from the forest. Jobert immediately suggested to go to a safer place but Herminio said they were civilians with nothing to do with the fight. Herminio could no longer take long walks for he was old and blind. The gun fire lasted for more than one hour.

At 5pm, when the gun fire had subsided, they heard someone from outside the house shouting, “Kayong mga NPA na nandyan sa itaas ng bahay, lumabas kayo diyan at bumaba dito!” (You NPA inside the house get out and get down here!) The boys were forced to come down and immediately saw the soldiers who ordered them to raise their hands. Herminio, on the other hand, explained that it was difficult for him to go down because he is blind but a soldier said, “Litse, bakit hindi makababa ay meron namang hagdan!? (How can you not come down when there is a stair”). So Herminio struggled to come down from the house. Being blind, Herminio did not know where to go and started to stray until he reached a coffee tree. The soldiers shot Herminio. Then they shot his nephew Emer. The eye witness was the next target but he was able to run. He hid behind big rocks, which became his cover until he could reach the house of Orenio Samia, his uncle.

The next day, 27 residents, including barangay councilor Isabero Sulda, checked Herminio’s place. When they arrived about 22 soldiers who ordered them to line up, took their photos and listed their names. They were warned not to watch the soldiers as they collected the dead.

They saw Herminio Samia’s body near the coffee tree. He was shot in the stomach, his intestines exposed and had an exit wound at the back. Emer Somina’s body was found near the house’s door. Norman Samia was found a few steps away, with his ear removed from his head and his jaw broken. Welmer’s left hand was cut off from his wrist and had a gunshot on his nose, which disfigured his face. Jobert’s body was found near Welmer’s.

The soldiers gave the residents plastic canvass and ordered them to take the bodies to the grassy part on top of the hill to be loaded into a helicopter. At the hilltop, the residents were told to prepare the area where the helicopter could land. But then it rained. So they were told to move the bodies to the barangay hall at Madum, Mendis. The soldiers went with them.

The 15 year old witness, after telling his uncle what he saw, has not spoken since.

On August 30, members of the 1st Special Forces Battalion were still encamped at the barangay hall and at the day care center where the Samias and Seminos were killed.

Excellency, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we ask that you condemn the massacre at Pangantucan, Bukidnon on August 18, 2015, and order an immediate pull-out of the 1st Special Forces Battalion from Bukidnon and end this dirty war against the Filipino people.

We further urge your administration:

1. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights to look into the massacre of Herminio, Jobert and Norman Samia and Emer and Welmer Somina.

2. To arrest and prosecute the soldiers involved in the massacre.

3. To withdraw your counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians.

4. To observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major Human Rights instruments that the Philippine government is a party and signatory to.

Finally we call on your administration and all its institutions to uphold the basic human rights of the citizens whom you have sworn to serve.

For human rights and peace,

Donna Strawson
Representative, Coordinating Committee
ICHRP Canada
Ichrpcanada [at] yahoo [dot] com

Cc – Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin, Secretary, Department of National Defense, Email: osnd [at] philonline [dot] com
Atty. Leila De Lima, Secretary, Department of Justice, 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, Email: comsec [at] chr [dot] gov [dot] ph
Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon Robert Douglas Nicolson PC,QC,MP Email: rob.nicholson [at] parl [dot] gc [dot] ca