AFP denies link to Lumad killers
(The Philippine Star) - September 13, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The military has denied any link to groups involved in the killing of Lumads and welcomed the move of human rights group Karapatan to bring the matter before the United Nations.

However, the military’s accusers must seek justice for all Lumads that the New People’s Army (NPA) has killed, according to Armed Forces Civil Relations Service chief Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala.

“We call on them (Karapatan) to seek justice for all, including the 357 Lumads the NPA remnants killed in Southern Mindanao from 1998 to 2008,” he said.

In 2009 alone, the NPA killed 83 civilians, 24 of them  Lumads, in southern Mindanao, Kakilala said.

The NPA has a history of killing indigenous peoples, he added.

The military is now conducting an internal investigation “to ascertain if Armed Forces actions were appropriate relative to this unfortunate event,” spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said.

Militant groups have accused the military of carrying out a campaign against Lumad leaders accused of being NPA members.

An Army-backed paramilitary group killed three Lumads in Lianga, Surigao del Sur early this month, they added.

Killed were Emerito Samarca, director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development; and indigenous people’s leaders Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo.

The killers were government militia men of the Magahat-Bagani Force, they said.

However, Army officials have denied the existence of such a unit.

Karapatan has asked the UN Human Rights Council to look into the killings and to recommend actions to deal with  the matter.

“We want international bodies to know what is happening in Mindanao, that the Lumad, in defense of their land, are being killed and forced to leave their communities,” Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.

“While the AFP can lie through their teeth about their involvement in the killings and all other atrocities of its paramilitary groups, the motives are crystal clear: eliminate those who are perceived as enemies of the state, including those who fight for their land and their rights.”

The killings are part of government  policy, and are not simply an internal conflict among indigenous peoples as the government wants the public to believe, Palabay said.

Meanwhile, Sens. Nancy Binay, Loren Legarda and Grace Poe have expressed concern over the reported killing of Lumads, especially women and children, in evacuation centers in Mindanao.

Binay has expressed concern over the situation of indigenous peoples in evacuation centers after a four-year-old girl died of asthma and two other children were confirmed to have chicken pox while staying in an evacuation center in Surigao del Sur.

“It is also alarming to hear reports that many are experiencing psychological trauma,” she said in Filipino.

She urged the Departments of Health and Social Welfare and Development  to come to the aid of the indigenous peoples.

Poe has filed Resolution 1572 to enable the Senate to make an inquiry into the reported killings of Lumads in Mindanao.

It must result in “meting out the appropriate sanctions to those liable, and formulating legislative measures protecting, furthering and improving the welfare of various indigenous peoples and tribes in the Philippines,” she added. 

 

ACIRC AGRICULTURAL AND LIVELIHOOD DEVELOPMENT ALTERNATIVE LEARNING CENTER AN ARMY ARMED FORCES ARMED FORCES CIVIL RELATIONS SERVICE CRISTINA PALABAY DEPARTMENTS OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT KARAPATAN LUMADS MINDANAO
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