Pnoy: No campaign to kill Lumads
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - September 8, 2015 - 4:09am

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino on Tuesday gave assurance that there is no government campaign to kill Lumads or indigenous peoples amid allegations that the military is staging the killings as part of its anti-insurgency campaign.

“There is no campaign to kill Lumad people. We are serving the people,” Aquino said in a media forum aired over state-run People’s Television.

“Serving the people does not mean killing its citizens,” he added.

Militant groups have accused the armed forces of executing Lumad leaders due to suspicions that they have ties with the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of communist rebels.

Military officials, however, have denied the allegation and maintained that killing unarmed civilians are inconsistent with their policy.

Calls to make the military accountable for the killings mounted following the deaths of three Lumads in Surigao del Sur last week.

Emerito Samarca, executive director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) and indigenous people’s leaders Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo were killed by armed men on September 1 in Barangay Diatagon in Lianga town.

Activists said the perpetrators belong to a military-backed group called Magahat-Bagani Force. Security officials have denied the existence of such paramilitary unit.

The Council for Health and Development (CHD) said Campos and Sinzo were publicly executed by heavy gunfire while Samarca was found with multiple stab wounds, with his throat slit ear-to-ear inside ALCADEV’s premises.

“Attacks on community-based workers are attacks on the people themselves. It is imperative that paramilitary forces are disarmed, and the military pull-out of indigenous peoples’ communities,” said Eleanor Jara, executive director of CHD.

“We call for an immediate and independent investigation on this recent spate of killings and the perpetrators of this heinous act be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Jara added.

Human rights group Karapatan said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) does not deserve to be given a budget because of the killings.

“The AFP should pay for their crimes against the people and deserves not a single cent from the people’s money,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

"With what is happening especially in areas under the Eastern Mindanao Command—the massive evacuation, the killings, massacres and threat to Lumad schools, their teachers, staffs and students—it is the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its paramilitary force multipliers who owe the people," she added.

Palabay claimed that taxpayers' money has been used to fund the paramilitary forces who killed the Lumads.

Karapatan said a total of 2,658 individuals from 22 communities in five Surigao del Sur towns are now inside evacuation centers due to “intense military operations.”

“The more than 55 AFP combat battalions deployed in non-Muslim areas in Mindanao have caused a series of human rights violations against the people of Mindanao, especially peasants and indigenous people,” Palabay said.

ACIRC AGRICULTURAL AND LIVELIHOOD DEVELOPMENT ALTERNATIVE LEARNING CENTER ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES BARANGAY DIATAGON CAMPOS AND SINZO DIONEL CAMPOS AND BELLO SINZO EASTERN MINDANAO COMMAND LUMAD LUMADS PEOPLE
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with