How to help the Manobo evacuees

Calls for support to the Manobo communities driven out from their communities by the paramilitary murders of their leaders have increased in recent days.

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, which has community schools in lumad areas in Mindanao, call out to the Catholic groups to support the alternative learning schools and call for the end of militarization in Mindanao.

“We encourage different sectors especially the church people to join and support in condemning the continuous attack to Lumad communities and their alternative learning schools. We challenge the Aquino government to immediately act and stop the political killings, harassment and militarization not only in Surigao del Sur but the whole Mindanao region.” said RMP National Coordinator Sr. Francis Añover, RSM, who is also a Mindanaoan.

Añover also appealed to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to condole with the Manobo evacuees. “We also urge the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to condole with the victims by condemning the offense and the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan.”

Meanwhile, Manila Bulletin columnist and blogger Tonyo Cruz wrote about things the public can do to help the indigenous peoples in Mindanao, as suggested by Karapatan:

1. Ask President BS Aquino, the military’s commander-in-chief, to immediately order the withdrawal of military forces from all Manobo Lumad communities, houses, and schools so that the displaced communities could return home.

2. Call for an end to displacements, abductions, killings, and massacres of Manobo Lumads, and for an independent investigation into the tragic incidents.

3. Call for the prosecution of the perpetrators.

4. Call for abolition of Magahat Bagani, Alamara, and other “vigilante” groups.

5. Ask for the resignation of Rep. Catamco as chair of the House Committee on Indigenous Peoples, and for her investigation over the June 23 attack on UCCP Haran.

6. Seek an end to the “Oplan Bayanihan” counter-insurgency program for targeting civilians and civilian communities.

‘These people are acting like gods’: Disarm, disband militia, Surigao del Sur gov demands as evacuees near 3,000

“The Army helped in creating this militia group then they should find means to stop and put an end to them.” – Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel

Pimentel brushed the military’s professions aside, saying: “It would be hard for the Army to deny that they know these people because members of this Bagani force have been seen within their headquarters. We have seen this militia group carry between 20 to 30 high-powered firearms … where did this tribal group get their assault rifles and ammunition? Why allow this group to just walk around carrying such firearms?”

“We are appearing inutile as we are helpless to do anything. These people are acting like gods.”

Read Gov. Pimentel’s stand on this issue of paramilitary troops in Surigao del Sur here ‘These people are acting like gods’: Disarm, disband militia, Surigao del Sur gov demands as evacuees near 3,000

After killings, Manobos abandon villages

Soldiers, who introduced themselves as members of the Army’s 36th and 75th Infantry Battalions (IBs), and the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group, massed up in the village around 4 a.m. on Tuesday.

“This group was more agitated and scary. They went inside the houses without requesting permission from residents and went through our belongings. The soldiers then ordered everyone to gather near our father’s wake,” Imelda Belandres said… “They ordered us to walk towards Kilometer 16 and we have to follow because they were armed. We were scared that they will kill us,” Belandres said. On the dirt road, they were surrounded by the soldiers and militias.

“When we reached Kilometer 16, they told us not to move an inch or we will be killed. One of the soldiers introduced himself as a certain Bebot Bigante Brital of the 75th IB and he lectured us that we should not complain about mining companies coming in our lands because they will give us money,” Belandres said.

“Many of the residents tried to argue explaining that we were civilians. While this was happening, they suddenly grabbed Dionel Campos and his cousin Bello Sinzo. It happened too fast. They opened fire not far from us. It was very close to our feet. So we dove for cover. After the firing stopped, we saw the dead bodies. There were blood, flesh and human brain on the ground. They killed them,” Belandres said.

Read more of Imelda’s narrative on what happened in Han-ayan in this article (click article to open) After killings, Manobos abandon villages