(Top photo from inquirer.net)
Two lumads who showed up in a press conference in the Army headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo in Manila are exposed now as leaders of paramilitary groups responsible to the attacks on lumads.
Last Monday, three lumads including Datu Malapandaw Nestor Apas from the Langilan Tribal Manobo based in Davao del Norte, Marcial Belandres from Barobo, Surigao del Sur and Rico Macat of San Miguel, Surigao del Sur appeared in the presscon and claimed that the New People’s Army were responsible for the killings of Alcadev director Emerito Samarca, Mapasu leader Dionel Campos and his cousin Bello Sinzo.
News reports were critical of their claims. The Philippine Daily Inquirer wrote : “However, none of them presented any evidence or first-hand information to back up their allegations that the attacks were perpetrated by communist rebels.” see full story here NPA behind killings, claim ‘lumad’ leaders
Their claims contradict testimonies of Alcadev teachers and the community who saw how the paramilitary Magahat-Bagani Force shot Campos and Sinzo in front of them on the morning of September 1.
However, the big issue now is the revelation that Apas and Belandres are tagged as leaders of paramilitary groups.
Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel, who earlier voiced his stand to have the Magahat-Bagani disarmed, arrested and even shot, told the Inquirer that Belandres is a leader of the said group. Here’s an excerpt of that Inquirer report:
In a phone interview, Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel said Belandres was a Magahat-Bagani leader and “one of those we want arrested for harassing lumad communities.”
Documents earlier furnished by Pimentel to the Inquirer identified Belandres as a leader of a paramilitary group operating in communities in the boundary of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur, particularly the small-scale gold mining site in Barangay Bolhoon in San Miguel town and in Barobo town.
The Inquirer report also revealed Apas as an organizer of the Alamara group which has been harassing the Manobos in Talaingod and Kapalong. The report interviewed a Salugpongan leader who said Apas has abandoned the tribes:
Tribal leaders in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, assert that Apas, one of those presented by the military in Camp Aguinaldo, has long before turned his back from his own people after he joined another paramilitary group, Alamara.
He does not even have influence over the constituency, especially that he is not staying with the tribe in the hinterlands, Datu Doloman Dawsay said. “You cannot be a datu and stay in the lowlands.”
The report also quoted a MISFI teacher who was confronted by Apas and the Alamara:
A teacher of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. recalled an incident on Feb. 6 when some 100 members of the Alamara and government militias led by Lito Masaloon occupied Sitio Muling in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong town.
The next day, soldiers from the 60th Infantry Battalion led by a certain First Lieutenant Roldan and Second Lieutenant Careño arrived along with Apas, who was wielding an M-16 rifle, and Matol Masaloon, said the teacher, Ricky Balilid.
On the third day of the occupation, Apas, along with Roldan and Careño, summoned the teachers to the house of Olong Tiklunay, took their pictures and lectured them about the government’s counterinsurgency campaign.
The full story can be read here Tribal chief in AFP briefing a paramilitary leader, says Surigao gov
Salugpongan leaders also said Apas was last seen during the botch rescue and attack on UCCP Haran last July 23. Apas is also included in the case filed by rights groups for the said attack.