“These killings are under the context of the counterinsurgency program which is running short on a deadline.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Survivors of attacks by soldiers and paramilitary men in Mindanao recalled their harrowing experience in their testimonies before the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNSRRIP), Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, in their effort to raise international attention and get justice for their communities.
Piya Macliing-Malayao, spokesperson of the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu) told Bulatlat.com that on Sept. 16, her group along with the victims, also submitted statements and reports on this year’s cases of killings and evacuation of Lumad communities in the four regions of Caraga, Socksargen, Northern and Southern Mindanao.
“These killings are under the context of the counterinsurgency program which is running short on a deadline,” Malayao said. She said there is urgent need to put a stop to the impunity of soldiers and paramilitary groups under Oplan Bayanihan.
Malayao also said the Aquino government should allow an official visit to the Philippines by the UNSRRIP to investigate the spate of extrajudicial killings, and attacks on communities and tribal schools. UNSRRIP Tauli-Corpuz is a native Kankana-ey from Cordillera and is based in the Philippines.
Katribu had documented 68 indigenous peoples killed under President Aquino’s term, with 13 victims slain in the past five months. The human rights group Karapatan had documented 262 victims of extrajudicial killings in Aquino’s five years.
“We have not stopped campaigning against this. Still, the killings have reached 68,” Malayao said. “We fear that the issue has not been exposed enough to put a stop to the impunity.”
She recalled that under President Gloria Arroyo in 2006, the killings subsided after international groups and other governments began to express concern and put pressure on the Arroyo regime.
Those who gave their personal testimonies to the UNSRRIP were: victims of the Sept. 1 attacks by the paramilitary group in Surigao del Sur, Josephine Pagalan, and Gideon Galicia, volunteer teacher at the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev); and “Lontoy” Samia, the 16-year-old Manobo, and only survivor and witness to the massacre of his family by Special Forces troops in Pangantucan, Bukidnon on Aug. 19.
Stiffany Paluga of the Karapatan Northern Mindanao Region also gave her testimony on the fact-finding mission they conducted in the Pangantucan massacre site on Sept. 1 to 3.
Pagalan, the spokesperson of the Lumad group, Kasalo-Caraga, is resident of the Kilometer 16 community. It was in front of her house where the paramilitary Magahat killed Mapasu leader Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo in front of some 300 residents. Tauli-Corpuz also met Campos’s daughter, Michelle. She had earlier heard the testimony of Michelle’s 13-year-old sister, Sheina, who witnessed their father’s killing.
The victims were accompanied by members of Katribu, the Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation, (IPMSDL) and Philippine Task Force for the Indigenous Peoples Rights (TFIP).
Edtami Mansayagan of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples was also present during the meeting.
Malayao said Tauli-Corpuz expressed her concern, and gave commitment to help raise the urgent issues to UN bodies and the international arena. She said the UN offical also supported their call to disband paramilitary groups and bring the perpetrators of killings to justice.