Militiamen kill tribal school head, indigenous leader; residents evacuate

Barug Katungod Mindanao

Worst in a series of recent attacks on indigenous people in Mindanao, militiamen reportedly murdered the head of a tribal school, the chairman of a Lumad organization and one other person in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur early Tuesday morning – September 1, 2015.

Josephine Pagalan, spokesperson of the Kahugpungan sa mga Lumad-Caraga or KASALO, a regional federation of indigenous people’s organizations, said that Jionel Campos, chairman of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sa Sumusunod or MAPASU, and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo, were executed at KM16, Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon in front of hundreds of residents of at least six sitios who had been ordered out of their homes by gunmen of the Magahat/BAGANI Force militia around 4 a.m.

The executions were also witnessed by teachers and students of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development or ALCADEV, who had been roused from their dormitories at the school and ordered to join the residents at KM16.

When the militia withdrew after killing the two, the teachers and students returned to the ALCADEV compound to find the school’s executive director, Emerito Samarca, who had been ordered to stay behind, dead in a room, his throat slit and stabbed in the stomach, his hands and feet bound with rope.

The school had just celebrated its 11th founding anniversary. Samarca had also attended the International People’s Conference on Mining held in Metro Manila from July 30 to August 1.

Pagalan, who made to report the incident at the Lianga police station said that troops of the Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion and Special Forces Regiment had arrived in Diatagon on August 30, occupying their villages and the school. The Magahat, she said, followed early Tuesday morning and immediately “kicked the doors of houses, ordering the people out and telling them to gather at KM16.” Pagalan said she herself had been staying with a daughter at KM16 who had just given birth.

When the residents had gathered there, she said, the militiamen “ordered us to stop supporting the NPA (New People’s Army) if we did not want to die.”

Campos was then ordered to sit down outside her daughter’s store where “he was shot in the head,” followed by Sinzo. “Silang tanan nagpaputok (They all fired their guns),” Pagalan said.

She said the Magahat then “warned us to leave our place within two days or we would be killed when they returned” before withdrawing.

Pagalan said the residents of Diatagon have agreed to flee and head to the provincial capital, Tandag City, to seek help from the government.

This would be the second mass evacuation of residents from the lumad communities of Diatagon since last October when some 1,800 indigenous Manobo fled their homes after the murder of MAPASU council member Henry Sarsona Alameda, who was executed in front of his family by soldiers and militiamen, and Aldren Dumaguit, also MAPASU member.


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BARUG KATUNGOD MINDANAO (Mindanao, Stand for Human Rights!) is a broad island-wide human rights network of lawyers, churchpeople, academics, artists, youth and students, women, child rights advocates, Lumad rights workers, Moro human rights workers, health professionals, journalists, and other human rights workers and defenders. It aims to serve as a human rights campaign center in Mindanao by drawing up island-wide statistics and analysis of human rights trends and issues; provide capacity-building trainings to human rights workers and human rights defenders in the regions; and strengthen human rights advocacy and mobilizations at Mindanao, national, and international levels.

Lead Convenors:

Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (INPEACE Mindanao) • Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN Alliance of Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao) • Kawagib Alliance for the Advancement of Moro Human Rights • Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) • Sisters’ Association in Mindanao (SAMIN) • Community-Based Health Services Association-Mindanao (CBHSA) • Resource Center for People’s Advocacies in Southern Mindanao • Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights

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