Redemptorist priests dismayed by death of student in their lumad school

( Candles lit during an event for lumad schools held last November in Manila. photo by Mark Saludes)

Alibando Tingkas was shot on Jan. 17, becoming the latest victim in a spate of killings of indigenous people in the southern region of Mindanao in recent months.

Figures detailing the exact number of killings of indigenous peoples over the last few months are sketchy but rights groups claim more than 140 people have been killed since the current government came to power.

Continue reading Redemptorist priests dismayed by death of student in their lumad school

Thousands join funeral march for 3 Surigao lumad martyrs

Amid calls for justice, thousands of Lumads, peasants, workers and other progressives in Mindanao joined the separate funerals over the weekend for the three men killed by a paramilitary group in Surigao del Sur.

Tribal school director Emerito Samarca, and Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo were hailed as “martyrs” as they were laid to rest almost two weeks after they were killed by the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani Force, in suspected collusion with soldiers, on Sept. 1 in Diatagon village, Lianga.

Justice remains uncertain, even as Malacañang expressed support to the investigation on the incident, while the military issued denials of its involvement. Meanwhile, families of the victims, Lumad leaders and Diatagon residents who were themselves victims in the rampage, stand by their testimonies about military presence during the killings. Witnesses reportedly continue to receive threats, to prevent them from telling the truth.

“We will honor the deaths of our recent martyrs through our strong commitment to the truth,” said the Lumad group Kahugpungan Alang sa Lumadnong Organisasyon sa Caraga (Kasalo-Caraga).

Read more of this story at Thousands join funerals of 3 Surigao Sur ‘martyrs’ from bulatlat.com.

View photos of the funeral march at Thousands attend burial of school director in Surigao del Sur from davaotoday.com

 

Reply to President Aquino’s hand-washing on the recent Lumad killings

(Photo from Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command PR shows Major Gen. Aurelio Baladad being conferred a lumad tribute by lumads linked to the AFP)

(This is the statement of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Northern Mindanao Region on President Benigno Aquino III’s response to the militarization and killings in Surigao del Sur and Bukidnon and other areas in Mindanao. You can visit their website at http://www.rmp-nmr.org/)

Instead of ordering an investigation, the president, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) gives a careless statement when he said, “There is no campaign to kill anybody in this country. There is a campaign to go after everybody who commits crimes, regardless of who they are.”

His pronouncement is both a denial of what is going on, and at the same time an accusation targeted at the victims butchered by the government forces and supporting paramilitary minions.

While the public document of the government’s Internal Peace and Security Plan, dubbed “Bayanihan,” does not have a word on the killing rampage of the AFP, the president’s statement of full support and endorsement of the Investment Defense Forces – formally the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) and informally the paramilitary groups – is a standing order for the military’s guiding principle. At the core of the military’s actions is the interest to protect business firms – not the people it has sworn to protect.

If President Aquino says the campaign is to go after a person “who commits crimes” and dismisses the killings as justified actions of the military, then he is implying that those massacred and murdered by his forces were criminals. His statement is consistent with the military’s claim that they have been going after members of the New People’s Army, a statement that has been exposed to be a lie by the communities they have targeted and by the people who have seen their smears in the aftermath of their slaughter (see: Fact-Finding Mission Report on the Pangantucan Massacre).

The Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) is an award-winning educational institution that has a special curriculum on agriculture, technical and vocational skills. One of the victims of the recent spate of killings is ALCADEV’s executive director, Emerito Samarca. Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) is an organization of the Manobo community in Surigao del Sur, which has been launching campaigns based on the stand of its members – the primary need to protect their ancestral domain from investments that have long been trying to get ahold of their resources. One of those killed was the head of this organization, and the other his cousin also a member of this group. They were serving the people. Yes, serving the people does not entail killing any of the citizens. Those serving the people were the ones killed. The government killed them.

Sr. Ma. Famita N. Somogod, MSM
Coordinator, RMP-NMR Inc

Government authorities are accountable for attacks on Lumad schools!

We, the Save Our Schools Network condemn in strongest possible terms the recent attacks on schools in Brgy. White Culaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon and the killings of Emerito Samarca, Executive Director of ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development), a lumad school in Surigao del Sur, and two (2) others, by members of MAGAHAT paramilitary forces yesterday, September 1 at the ALCADEV Compound in Km 16, Han-ayan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

The act of killing was also witnessed by teachers and students of ALCADEV who were roused from their dormitories about 4:00 in the morning.

WE DEMAND JUSTICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY! The continuing use of this paramilitary forces by the AFP in their counter-insurgency have gravely cost not just the children’s right to education, but also the lives of children, IP leaders, educators and human rights defenders not only in CARAGA and Southern Mindanao Region but all over Mindanao.

Further, the recent systematic attacks on MISFI Academy and a daycare center, and other human rights violation in Barangay White Culaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon perpetrated by combined forces of 23rd and 8th Infantry Battalions have caused great alarm and displacement among indigenous people last August 25 to August 30, 2015.

We demand an immediate investigation on complaints of illegal arrests and detention of 14 people, forced surrender of nearly all male residents of Barangay White Culaman Sentro, destruction of school properties, threats of burning the school, and the use of about 20 students as human shield during military operation.

These shameless acts of the State Armed Forces puts the children and all of the civilians at risk, violating not just our own Philippine laws but also international covenants, the UNCRC, UDHR, Geneva Protocols and the like. The incessant attacks among indigenous peoples are becoming more vicious targeting even our most vulnerable and defenseless sectors as Oplan Bayanihan nears its end.

As the 2016 election is drawing near, we urge the congress, the senate and even the presidentiables to hear these complaints and act upon it. Thus, the pending call of our senators to conduct a senate inquiry regarding the cases of attacks on school should be realized.

We call on the prosecution of all violators of children’s rights and an end to this continuing impunity.

STOP military attacks on schools here in Mindanao!

DISBAND all paramilitary groups!!

JUSTICE for all victims of military atrocities!

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