Trigger warning: Rape, sexual violence, torture
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Updated June 17, 2021, 12:42 p.m.
MANILA – Two Lumad farmers and a 12-year old student were killed by soldiers in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, according to human rights group Karapatan-Caraga.
The group said that on June 15, soldiers from the 3rd Special Forces Battalion Philippine Army indiscriminately fired at a group of farmers that left Willy Rodriguez, Lenie Rivas and 12 year-old Angel Rivas in sitio Panukmoan, barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur dead.
Angel was a Grade 6 student of the Lumad school Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) while Rodriguez and Lenie are members of Lumad organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu).
Rius Valle, spokesperson of Save Our Schools Network, said that according to initial reports from the community, there were six of them who went to the farm to gather abaca when the soldiers opened fire. Three of them manage to escape.
Residents, said Valle, also belied claims of soldiers that the three farmers fought back. The victims reportedly asked permission from the military before going to the farm.
“State forces employing ‘nanlaban’ narrative is a worn-out excuse used to escape accountability,” Valle said.
Meanwhile, Karapatan-Caraga reported that soldiers brought their remains to the military brigade headquarters in St. Christine, Lianga and presented them as members of the New People’s Army.
The group said that elements of the 3rd SFB and the 48th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army have been encamping in the community of Manluy-a for several months now. The military also had established a military detachment in Km. 18.
Shattered parts of the body
Citing reports from relatives, SOS Network said the victims’ faces and limbs were smashed. The genitalia of the two women victims Angel and Lenie were also reportedly shattered, “leading to fears that the soldiers raped them before they were killed.”
Women’s group Gabriela criticized this saying that not too long ago, President Duterte had ordered the military to “shoot female rebels in the vagina.”
“Those words have since transformed into the reality for Filipino women, New People’s Army combatants and civilians alike. The brutality that the military dealt upon the female Lumad victims in the Lianga massacre, especially 6th-grade student Angel Rivas, is a stark testament to this macabre reality,” the group said in a statement.
Gabriela said the military must be held to account for what it described as “countless crimes against the Filipino people, especially towards Lumad women and the women of other indigenous peoples in the Philippines.”
They also added that it is time to put an end to what they call as “macho-feudal leadership of Duterte” which the group said has enabled and empowered men in uniform to rape, pillage, and murder Filipinos with impunity.
Dreams cut short for Angel
Meanwhile Valle said that Angel, a shy and quiet student, was awarded best in academics and agriculture last year. She dreamed, he added, of becoming a teacher someday.
The school is presently closed due to the pandemic.
“This only shows how monstrous and desperate this government is in silencing the Lumad resistance. In this administration, children were not spared in these brutal attacks” Valle lamented as he recalled the killings of Talaingod Manobo students Alibando Tingkas and Obello Bay-ao that were killed by paramilitary troops a few years ago.
This is the second massacre in Diatagon, Surigao del Sur. On Sept. 1, 2015, members of a paramilitary group killed Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), Dionel Campos, then chairperson of the Mapasu and Bello Sinzo.
Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat denounced the recent massacre in Lianga. She lamented that justice has not been served six years after the killing of Samarca, Campos and Sinzo.
“Instead of justice, we are continuously harassed and our rights have been blatantly violated by the state,” Cullamat said in a statement.
In 2015, families of the victims have filed charges against the perpetrators of Lianga massacre. The perpetrators remain at large despite the issuance of arrest warrant by Judge Edwin Malazarte of Branch 28 of the Lianga regional trial court.
Sandugo – Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination meanwhile amplified their call to hold President Duterte’s regime and the Armed Forces of the Philippines accountable for this recent massacre.
“In this light, we welcome the International Criminal Court’s move to investigate the systematic killings under the Duterte administration. We hope that truth and justice will be claimed in the near future, by Lianga and by all indigenous communities throughout the archipelago,” the group said in a statement.