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Loren: Killing of lumads unjustifiable in any way

September 15, 2015

MANILA – The killings in lumad communities attributed to the so-called Mahagat-Bagani militia groups for the reasons of the victims being alleged sympathizers of the rebel New People’s Army (NPA) or advocates of responsible mining does not justify their deaths, Senator Loren Legarda said on Monday.

In her interpellation after the privilege speech of Senator Teofisto Guingona III lambasting the anarchy in Barangay Diatangon, Lianga town in Surigao del Sur, Legarda said that the paramilitary groups were created apparently to protect logging and mining interests there.

“In April 1999, I went to Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao Sur. It is a logging area. It is a mining province. Is it possible that these paramilitary forces are created by such logging or even mining interests?” Legarda asked Guingona.

However, Guingona declined to jump to that conclusion, saying only that Emerito Samarca, the slain executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), is known to be a leader of a group that was against mining.

Aside from Samarca, other tribal leaders who were killed in front of the community were Dionel Campos and Datu Juvillo “Bello” Sinzo in Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga town.

“Yes, is certainly not against mining, they are just there to help the community and provide education to the community,” Guingona added.

Legarda also wondered what the military has done about the killings since ALCADEV is a learning institution duly registered and recognized by the Department of Education (DepEd) aimed at educating Lumads and the indigenous people sector.

“Whether they are pro or against mining, it does not justify killing them,” Legarda declared.

Legarda said that, if the information she received is accurate, which indicated that the area is not a seat of NPA activities, then “therefore, a murder as gory as what was projected on screen should not have happened.”

“And even assuming, even, that they are NPA sympathizers, assuming that their ideology is akin to those of the New People’s Army, such violence is still not warranted. It does not matter. Even NPAs are not deserving of such brutality,” Legarda said.

Legarda urged the proper Senate committee to immediately conduct an inquiry on the gory incident that should not be tolerated.

“This incident is not isolated. This incident should not be tolerated. This incident, indeed, must be wholly condemned by the institution. And yes, I agree with the gentleman that a Senate investigation should be conducted right away and justice must be served not only to the three deceased persons and their families, but all the previous Lumad killings in different parts of the country,” Legarda said.

Legarda wanted to have the parties behind the creation of the Mahagat Bagani Paramilitary Groups identified.

“Are they Lumads, as well, or are they from other groups? Who created them? Who armed them? Are they recognized by the mayor, by the local PNP, by the military, by the governor?” Legarda said

In response, Guingona noted that the group was apparently organized during the administration of former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Now, who has the capability to arm them with high-powered firearms? What’s clear also is that they are moving around with impunity,” Guingona said.

“I hope we can get the answer during the Senate hearing,” Guingona answered.

he word war between the military and human rights group Karapatan heats up as the latter taunts the former of alleged human rights violations “hashtags” in connection with public outcry to investigate the spate of Lumad killings in Caraga region and some parts of Mindanao.

In a separate development, the leader of the human rights advocate group Karapatan, Cristina Palabay, scoffed at what she described as the “AFP’s standard reply when confronted with issues of killings and other human rights violations committed against the people.”

Palabay enumerated what she described as “seven hashtags” that characterized the AFP response:

#Dumededma – Keep mum. Let the issue die down

#DenialKing – Deny. Feign innocence, even if a thousand witnesses attest to the culpability of Aquino regime and the AFP.

#BoySisi – Blame the victim(s). Tell the public it’s right to kill the victims because they are members of the New People’s Army anyway; as if killing rebels is justified.

#BoySisiReturns – Blame the NPA. Tell the public the human rights violations are committed by the New People’s Army. Never mind if earlier they claimed the victims are NPA members.

#BoySisiReplay – Red tagging. Tag human rights violation(s) as “communist propaganda” and the organizations raising the issue as “communist fronts”.

#BoySisiMemasabiLang – Conduct a self-serving investigation to put the blame on others. Para lang may masabing nagawa, magi-imbestiga kuno sila. Bring out false witnesses and “plant” evidence. Publish the result of the “investigation” to exonerate themselves. Or better, create an inter-agency task force in a bid to look more credible.

#Alamna #PalusotBulok – Commit more atrocities against the people to divert attention, and take actions 1-6 enumerated above.

“Whether the Aquino regime and the AFP are able to escape accountability regarding the spate of human rights violations they have committed through theses excuses, the atrocities continue with impunity. That’s how rotten this Administration’s Tuwid Na Daan is,” she added.

Source: Interaksyon