“We want Gen. Dela Rosa’s commitment in making sure that the Lumad can go home safely by arresting Calpet Egua, Loloy Tejero, Bobby Tejero, Margarito Layno and 32 other AFP goons who killed our leaders.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Indigenous peoples and progressive groups called on Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa to show the same relentless force in the war on drugs to run after the perpetrators of the “Lianga massacre,” which killed three beloved leaders and triggered the evacuation of 3,000 residents in Surigao del Sur a year ago today, Sept. 1.
Groups led by the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu) issued the call in successive protests at the gates of Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City today, Sept. 1, on the commemoration of the brutal killing of the Lianga Martyrs: Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo and Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural Development (Alcadev).
The massacre shocked the nation and spurred the campaign “Stop Lumád Killings,” which gained nationwide and international support. But a year later, the arrest warrant against the perpetrators, the military-backed Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group, are yet to be served, while the communities they have threatened had suffered at the evacuation site in Tandag City.
“We want General Dela Rosa’s commitment in making sure that the Lumad can go home safely by arresting Calpet Egua, Loloy Tejero, Bobby Tejero, Margarito Layno and 32 other AFP goons who killed our leaders,” Katribu Secretary General Piya Macliing Malayao said in a statement.
“We want the PNP to exercise the same amount of vigor they spend in chasing drug syndicates when they serve the warrants of arrest to these killers,” she said.
On Sept. 2, some 2,000 remaining Manobo evacuees from 22 communities will finally head home to Lianga and San Agustin, to be accompanied by various religious and progressive groups and government officials.
Col. Isidro Purisima, commanding officer of the 402nd Infantry Brigade, gave his word that soldiers will leave upon the return of the residents in the communities. Purisima gave his commitment to leaders of the Lumád group Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod (Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation, or Mapasu) and Friends of the Lumád in a dialogue on Aug. 30.
As of Aug. 24, a fact-finding mission found soldiers encamped in two communities: inside Alcadev grounds in Han-ayan and in Kilometer 9 in Diatagon village.
Various groups expressed support to the Lumád’s return to their communities to “reclaim the land and lives,” and supported the call for the pullout of government troops and the disbandment of paramilitary groups.
“If the military will not pull out and dismantle their camps within the villages, and once again sow terror through their combat operations, including their ‘community organizing for peace and development,’ we will hold 402nd Brigade commander Col. Isidro Purisima accountable,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE), said coal mine companies and “big business interests” in the Lumád ancestral homes must also stop.
“We say ‘enough is enough!’ to a year of landlessness and injustice for the Lumad. We share our solidarity with our Lumad brothers and sisters in their arduous struggle to assert their collective rights to land, livelihood, environment, and self-determination,” he said.
The global alliance Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) also hailed the homeward bound Lumád.
“We are one with the Lumad people of Mindanao in the campaign to reclaim and defend their territories and ways of life. We are awed by the courage of the Lumad in the face of great hardships they have faced the past year. We will continue to support the Indigenous People’s fight against militarization and other indigenous and people’s rights abuses not only in the Philippines but the rest of the world as well,” said Beverly Longid, IPMSDL global coordinator.