Paramilitary groups’ hand in lumad killings alarms DOJ
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - September 27, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has expressed alarm over the involvement of paramilitary groups in the killing of lumad leaders in Mindanao.

The DOJ, which is investigating the incidents, viewed with “great concern” initial information tagging members of the paramilitary groups in the attack on indigenous peoples’ communities.

“We are also going to dig deeper into the possible links of these groups to organized crime syndicates,” DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima said in a statement yesterday.

The DOJ said the paramilitary groups – which are also called private armed groups – use power and influence by force and have killed and stolen from thousands of civilians all over the Philippines, especially in Mindanao.

Because of this, De Lima said the DOJ probe would include the supporters of these groups who fuel their criminal operations and acts of violence.

The DOJ chief urged the military and non-state forces to respect the rights of villagers caught in between the conflict.

She said human rights violations would be covered by the probe.

“The DOJ assures the public that any human rights violation and criminal offense committed will be investigated and prosecuted. The DOJ will continue to conduct in depth and objective investigations, regardless of whether the perpetrators are the NPA, paramilitary groups, or members of the state security forces,” she said.

De Lima lamented the finger-pointing that is taking place amid the violence, which she said was carried over to the national press through an aggressive and concerted campaign by anti-administration forces.

On the other hand, she lauded the non-partisan sectors for helping resolve the conflict peacefully.

Last week, the DOJ created a 16-member team composed  of government prosecutors and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the lumad killings.

ACIRC DE LIMA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE DOJ FORCES GROUPS MINDANAO NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION NBSP PARAMILITARY SECRETARY LEILA
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