Classes for Lumad children back in their communities in Talaingod are under threat of being disrupted by soldiers and paramilitary groups encamped in their communities.
The Save Our Schools Network Southern Mindanao said there were reported coming from teachers of Salugpongan Community Learning Center that they were warned by the community not to proceed to Sitio Piroy, Brgy. Palma Gil, Talaingod as soldiers from 68th Infantry Battalion together with members of Lumad militia group Alamara are currently staying and encamping within the community which is within close perimeter of the school.
“Two teachers from Salugpongan are still staying in Sitio Tibucag, Brgy. Dagohoy since Lumad leaders told them not to proceed due to the presence of the military and Alamara in Sitio Piroy” said Valle.
(Magahat leader Calpet Egua appears in court where he gets free on bail, photo from Agusan del Sur Philippine National Police)
The highest ranking leader of a “lumad” paramilitary group being held responsible for the killing of a school director and two other lumad leaders in Lianga, Surigao del Sur province, surrendered to police, but for another criminal case.
In Tandag City last Tuesday, former Interior Secretary and presidential aspirant Mar Roxas visited the Manobo evacuees camped at the Tandag Sports Complex.
But according to this report and video from the indie journalist group Kodao Productions, Roxas appeared to be unaware of the extent of the atrocities as he listened to a Manobo recount the murder of their school head and lumad leaders.
Roxas interrupted the lumad as he turned his attention on the person holding the camera, “Who are you?” he asked, and then requested the video to be cut off.
The report said that after this talk with the lumad, Roxas refused request of the provincial governor to continue to visit the other evacuees. Roxas said that he would ask authorities to investigate the matter and denied that the perpetrators of the massacre are part of the Philippine Army.
“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.”
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.