Monday, April 15, 2024

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Who are the military-backed “Datu”?

“The attempts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to deny their links to the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary groups involved in the massacre of three Lumad leaders and to discredit the communities they victimized backfired when they presented before the media the so-called datu of Mindanao who turned out to be known leaders of paramilitary groups,” said Marie Hilao-Eriquez, Karapatan chairperson.

The AFP has been doing the rounds and presenting before the media three ‘datu’ who are members of paramilitary groups, namely: Marcial Belandres, Nestor Apas, and Lumansad Sibogan.

“The AFP just gave us proof of their links to the paramilitary groups.” Hilao-Enriquez also scorned the shots of Winnie Monsod, a  self-confessed member of Oplan Bayanihan’s “multisectoral advisory group”, who echoed the same lies peddled by the AFP, resorting to victim blaming, and fueling AFP’s Lumad versus Lumad storyline.

Below are some of the documented involvement of the AFP-backed ‘datu’ in human rights violations among Lumad:

  1. Marcial Belandres was identified by witnesses as one of the killers of  Lumad leader Henry Alameda on October 24, 2014.  Alameda was dragged from his house towards the forest in Sitio Cabalawan, San Isidro, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. He was shot in the chest when held on to a post and resisted the attempt to bring him out of the community. The killing happened when units under the 24th Infantry Division were conducting combat operations in Lianga, Surigao del Sur and in San Lorenzo, Agusan del Sur. Specific units involved in the combat operations were the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion based in St. Christine, Lianga under Col. Jesus Durante, 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, and the 3rd Special Forces under the 401st Brigade PA, members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and members of  Calpit Egua paramilitary group were also seen with the AFP units.Marcial Belandres’ younger brother Waway Belandres is married to the sister of Calpet Egua, a known leader of a paramilitary group in Agusan del Sur. Waway was involved in the disappearance of Jojo Tejero and Elde Martinez on October 22, 2014 in Sitio Kapatagan, San Roque, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. The same Army units mentioned above were also with them when Tejero and Martinez were last seen. On October 24, 2014, Waway and the Egua paramilitary group also indiscriminately fired at Brgy. Captain Alejandro Dumaguit and his children Elejen and Aldren Dumaguit; and neighbors Alfredo Undayon, Victor Undayon and minors “Enggoy” and “Lynlyn” in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.
  1. Nestor Apas is a known leader of Alamara, a paramilitary group in Davao del Norte. He is a self- declared tribal leader of Langilan Manobo tribe in Kapalong, Davao del Norte. On February 6, 2015, Apas was seen with soldiers from the 60thIB-PA, led by 1Lt. Roldan and 2Lt. Carino, who encamped at the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, a Lumad school in Kapalong, Davao del Norte. He was involved in harassing teachers and students. He also instigated and facilitated the filing of trumped-up criminal charges against leaders and supporters of the Manabo evacuees who are seeking temporary shelter at UCCP Haran, Davao City. Apas was with the Alamara paramilitary group and Congresswoman Nancy Catamco during the raid at the UCCP on  July 23, 2015.
  1. Lumansad Sibogan is a leader of Alamara and a member of the Tribal Council of Talaingod of the National Commission of Indigenous People. He was among those seen with the 38thIB-PA who encamped in schools in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and forcibly recruiting Lumad into Alamara. ###

Marie Hilao-Enriquez

Angge Santos
Media Liaison

[email protected]

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Building
#1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets
Central District, Diliman
Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

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.

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