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Paramilitary men go on rampage in Agusan del Sur: two Lumad killed, two children wounded

UA No: 2011-07-01
July 28, 2011
Extrajudicial killing, Frustrated killing, Violation of the Rights of Children

Victim/s                                   :
40 years old, married with five children, resident of Calabuan village, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur
Known as Datu Lapugotan, Higaonon community leader;
Member of Linundigan, a local Hiagaonon organization;
Nephew of  Datu Maampagi Belayong (killed in 2009)

21 years old, single, deaf-mute (person with disability)
Arpe’s nephew, and resident of the same place
Also a member of Linundigan

Belayong’s two children: “Mimi” (not her real name), 14 years old and “Adu” (not his real name), four years old

Threat, harassment, intimidation

Datu Man-altuwan, member of the local Higaonon organization Linundigan-Kalumbay, and staff of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, during their formal meeting with Esperanza Mayor Nida Manpatilan

Place of Incident                    :
Mount Manalog, Calabuan village, Municipality of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur province

Date of Incident                     :
June 30, 2011

Alleged Perpetrator(s)          :
Identified members of the Special Civilian Active Auxiliaries (SCAA) or paramilitary group known as “Salakawan” meaning enforcer of all laws, formerly known as the Manpatilan private army called Wild Dogs, armed with garand, M14 and carbine rifles, namely:
1. Laging Binsalan
2. Tala Mansinugdan
3. Edik Bat-ongan – cadre of the SCAA in Salog village
4. Person known as Ihag, part of the personal security detail of Mayor Nida Manpatilan, wife of former Mayor Deo Manpatilan
5. Former Esperanza Mayor Deo Manpatilan and his wife, current Esperanza Mayor Nida Manpatilan and their personal bodyguards

Account of the Incident:

On June 30, at around 5 am, Arpe was lying on the floor of his house with his wife Mayse and three children, aged 1 year old, 4 years old and 8 years old, when they heard men on the ground outside their house.  Arpe’s 14-year-old daughter “Mimi” and his nephew Solte, 21 years old were asleep in the next house, two meters away.  All of a sudden, gunfire was directed at the house where Solte and Mimi were sleeping.  Solte jumped out of the house and was followed by gunfire.  The girl saw Solte fall to the ground as she was hit on the left leg.  She rolled down the hillside and hid below.

The gunmen entered the Belayong house and as soon as Arpe had tossed his one-year-old daughter to Mayse, he was shot twice on the chest, falling over Adu, who was still on the floor.  Mayse saw Tala Mansinugdan and Laging Binsalan shot Arpe as she jumped out of the house with her baby daughter and eight-year-old son and rolled down the hill to their farm plot below.  She saw her wounded teenage daughter and told her to hide.   Mayse then ran for two kilometers to get help at the house of Lagdam Hanghadon, her cousin and their nearest neighbors.

Learning of the events in Arpe’s house, Lagdam’s three sons returned to the place of the incident at around 9am and saw Arpe’s body lying over his four-year-old son who was alive but with a leg wound and covered in his father’s blood.  They saw the Belayong’s belongings scattered all over the house and some piled over his body.  They retrieved Solte’s dead body 3 meters away from Arpe’s house.  They also found Mimi hiding in the nearby farm at the foot of the hill near their house.

After placing the two dead bodies side by side inside the Belayong house, tying and wrapping them in cloth and plastic sheeting, they left the bodies unburied because they were worried that the armed men would go back for them. After arranging the corpses in the house, the Hangadon brothers took Mimi and Adu back to Lagdam’s house where they were reunited with their family.

For fear of the members of the Salakawan patrolling the mountains, it took 10 days for the family to find assistance and seek sanctuary in the lowlands.  In the meantime, Mimi and Adu were treated for their bullet wounds.  Mayse and her two other children, who were all traumatized, were all recovering from their experiences.

Karapatan views the killing of Belayong as connected to the incidents of land grabbing in Mount Mansalog and other Higaonon territories that are rich in minerals and natural resources, particularly by other indigenous peoples and armed groups organized by the government.  The forest areas in Esperanza are being eyed by big investors in palm oil plantation and mining.

Belayong had supported the opening of a school by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, which was in response to a request by the Higaonon organization, Linundigan.  This was opposed by former Esperanza town mayor Deo Manpatilan, who also heads the paramilitary group Salakawan, formerly known as Wild Dogs.

From May up to a week before he was killed in June, Belayong was visited by members of the paramilitary group Salakawan, who claimed ownership of Belayong’s farm, and had ordered him to leave. The Belayongs agreed to leave after harvesting their crops.

On June 6, Datu Man-altuwan and other members of Linundigan, along with the village chief of Calabuan and an RMP staff were harassed by Deo Manpatilan. The group went to Manpatilan’s wife, incumbent Esperanza Mayor Nida Manpatilan to ask permission for the school.  Deo Manpatilan repeatedly warned Datu Man-altuwan against supporting the RMP school, saying that the children would be taught anti-government and subversive songs.  Manpatilan proposed that Man-altuwan allowed a logging firm to help them build a school instead.

Many Higaonons who had opposed paramilitary groups were killed, including Belayong’s relative, Datu Mampaagi Belayong, elder and founding chairman of Linundigan, who was killed in 2009 in his home in Kinamaybay village, also in Esperanza.  The perpetrators were known members of two other paramilitary groups, the Task Force Gantangan-Bagani Force and Bungkatol Liberation Front or BULIF.

BULIF was formed in Agusan del Norte by the government-initiated tribal organization Kahugpungan sa Nagkahiusang Minorya (KNM), which was responsible for the harassment and displacement of Higaonon communities which were pushed deep into the mountains in the quadri-boundary of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon.  Such harassment resulted in the closure of literacy-numeracy schools in Lawan-Lawan, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte.  Those who relocated from Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte went to the hinterland communities in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur and are now prey to Manpatilan’s Salakawan/Wild Dogs.

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into the extrajudicial killing of Arpe Belayong and Solte Sanogan, frustrated killing and violation of the rights of children of Mayse Belayong and her four children, and threat, harassment and intimidation on Datu Man-altuwan and other leaders of the Linundigan-Kalumbay and staff of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.
The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”
The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innnocent and unarmed civillians
The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.
You may send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: [email protected] / [email protected]

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
[email protected]

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
Email: [email protected]

Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614
Email:  [email protected]

Hon.  Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email:   [email protected], [email protected]

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:

KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN Documentation Committee
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2/F Erythrina Building, #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag Sts,
Central District, Quezon City 1101, Philippines
Tel. Nos: (+63 2) 4354146 or 4342837
email: [email protected]

KARAPATAN Urgent Action Alert
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2/F Erythrina Building, #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag Sts.,
Central District, 1101 Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax: (632) 435 4146

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