“We urge law enforcement authorities to do their part so that the killing rampage of these armed paramilitary groups can be immediately stopped.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Members of Lumad communities have today filed the first batch of criminal charges against paramilitary and Philippine Army men involved in the Sept. 1 killing of two Manobo leaders and the director of a tribal high school in Surigao del Sur.
The indigenous Lumads, led by the group Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu), filed cases of multiple murder, robbery, grave threat and coercion against members of the armed paramilitary group led by Marcos Bocales, Marcial Belandrez and Kalpet Egua. Also charged were at least 20 other John Does, which include soldiers and other Magahat men who are yet to be identified pending the investigation.
The complainants were residents of Han-ayan community in Diatagon village who were themselves fired upon by the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary men, who shot and killed Mapasu chairperson Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo on Sept. 1.
In earlier reports, Han-ayan residents had identified soldiers of the 36th and 75th infantry battalions and Special Forces as the ones who came to the community on Aug. 29 to 31, prior to the killing.
The complainants are among the 2,700 evacuees who left 19 Lumad communities in four Surigao del Sur municipalities, and have sought sanctuary at the Provincial Sports Complex in Tandag City.
Karapatan-Caraga said in a statement that the complainants went to the Surigao del Sur Prosecutor’s Office in Lianga to file the charges this morning, Sept. 8.
They were assisted by volunteer lawyers Kutz Melvin Montenegro, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Surigao del Sur chapter, and Antonio Azarcon and Gerardo Maglinte of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM).
The Lumads also went to the Provincial Police Office and provided information to the Philippine National Police investigators to push for the immediate arrest of the perpetrators.
“The ball is now in (government’s) hands. We urge law enforcement authorities to do their part so that the killing rampage of these armed paramilitary groups can be immediately stopped,” said Karapatan Caraga Secretary General Eliza Pangilinan.
“The communities, human rights organizations and advocates are doing our part so that the criminals can be arrested immediately and the evacuees can return safely to their communities,” she said.
Meanwhile, on Sept. 7, at the House of Representatives, the six Makabayan bloc lawmakers filed House Resolution 2358 calling on the committee on human rights to look into the Lianga killings.
“The families and friends of the victims, as well as their colleagues at the Alcadev, Mapasu and other people’s organization and non-government organizations in Mindanao and in Metro Manila are demanding justice for the victims and are calling for the immediate stop to the escalating killings and the massive militarization in the entire island of Mindanao,” said the resolution.
The resolution was signed by Bayan Muna partylist Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, Gabriela Women’s Partylist Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Luzviminda Ilagan, Anakpawis partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap and Kabataan partylist Rep. Terry Ridon.