“Today, October 24, as ManiLakbayan heads to Metro Manila, its 700-strong participants also commemorate the first year of the killing of a fellow Lumad, Henry Alameda,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said, two days before the peoples of Mindanao are set to arrive at the National Capital Region. The ManiLakbayan, under the BS Aquino administration, comes to Manila with the call to “Stop Lumad killings and the attacks on schools, communities and peoples.”
This day last year, in Sitio Cabalawan, Brgy. San Isidro, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, Lumad leader Henry Alameda had just finished breakfast when three armed men dragged him out of his house towards the forested area. As they passed by a waiting shed, Alameda grabbed one of the posts and held on to it. Alameda and the men briefly wrestled and then one of the armed men shot Alameda twice. He was hit in the chest. Another gun man shot Alameda in the head.
One of Alameda’s killers was Marcial Belandres, a leader of a paramilitary group. Almost a year later, Belandres would again be involved in the massacre of Dionel Campos, Juvello Sinzo and Emerito Samarca, also in Lianga.
“The BS Aquino regime has done nothing to punish perpetrators of human rights violations thus the cycle continues. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would rather present Belandres as a legitimate Lumad datu in its ‘tribal war’ spectacle and not an AFP underling to absolve them from the September 1 massacre,” Palabay said.
The Manilakbayan also carries with them the news that a Lumad school, the Fr. Fausto Tentorio Memorial School was demolished yesterday, October 23, and barred to operate by Brgy. Capt. Felipe Cabugnason under the direct orders of the 8th and 23rd Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA). The soldiers are encamped in the barangay hall since August 2015. The Lumad school is named after the murdered Italian priest whom the Lumad consider as a beloved supporter. The AFP-backed Bagani paramilitary group was also involved in the killing of Fr. Pops Tentorio.
In Kitaotao, Bukidnon, White Culaman Brgy. Capt. Cabugnason, has attempted to close down the Lumad school since August 25 tagging it as an “NPA school”. Cabugnason tried to implement the closure on October 7 but the local office of the Department of Education temporarily prevailed. “Yesterday, Oct. 23, while most of the residents are in evacuation center, Cabugnason was reported to have demolished the school and ordered the teachers and students to leave the dormitory,” Palabay said.
“The human rights situation in Mindanao attests to the legitimacy of the calls of ManiLakbayan. The BS Aquino government should be held accountable for the killings and attacks against Lumad communities under the policy of Oplan Bayanihan,” Palabay said. “The proliferation of paramilitaries, the massacres and closing down of Lumad schools are all part of the BS Aquino’s national policy,” Palabay added.
Out of the 294 extrajudicial killings under the BS Aquino government, 133 are from Mindanao. (Karapatan data as of Sept. 30, 2015)
“The ManiLakbayan, a nationwide protest against war and plunder in Mindanao, is supported by different regions in the Philippines. Regions with similar experience of repression and human rights violations showed their solidarity through mass actions as the Manilakbayan contingents passes through their regions towards Metro Manila,” Palabay said. “We call on the public to join hands with the Lumad when they arrive here in Metro Manila on Monday, October 26,” Palabay ended.
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.