A human rights leader who is at the forefront of assisting Lumad victims and evacuees is the latest to be slapped with criminal charges.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Three soldiers who were caught reportedly spying at the funeral march of two slain Lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur have filed criminal charges against a regional human rights leader who is at the forefront of assisting Lumad evacuees.
Eliza Pangilinan, secretary general of the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (Karapatan) in Caraga region, was charged with serious physical injuries and robbery, by Sgt. Lomer Ramoso, Private First Class Gregorio Gabason and Private Reymund Siluterio of the 41st Civil Military Operations Company based in Saint Catherine village in Lianga.
On Sept. 13, the three soldiers were caught by marshalls at the funeral march in Lianga for the two Lumad leaders, Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo. The three soldiers were caught taking photos and monitoring the funeral march. One was armed with a .45 calibre pistol.
Pangilinan and other leaders brought the three to the Lianga police.
Pangilinan told Bulatlat.com that the Lianga police informed her of the complaint on Sept. 20, but she is yet to receive a copy of the charges, which were filed at the Lianga municipal prosecutor’s office.
Campos, Sinzo and educator Emerito Samarca were killed by the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani on Sept. 1 in Han-ayan, Diatagon village in Lianga. This resulted to the forced evacuation of Lumad communities to the Surigao del Sur Sports Center in Tandag City. More than 3,000 Lumads from communities in five towns have sought refuge at the sports arena.
Reynabel Enriquez, a four-year-old Lumad girl, who died at the evacuation center on Sept. 8, was also buried in Lianga on Sept. 13.
The military confirmed that the three were soldiers in active service, but claimed that they were merely bystanders. This was disputed by Karapatan-Caraga as the three were seen tagging along and taking photos of marchers, vehicles, and speakers at the program.
Karapatan-Caraga said the complaint is yet another trumped-up charge meant to harass leaders and members of progressive organizations. Since 2014, some 500 progressives in Mindanao have been charged with criminal complaints. Although some were dismissed by court, some have led to arrests and detention.