• Belgian group calls for probe

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    BRUSSELS, Belgium: A Belgian nongovernment organization (NGO) condemned the spate of killings of indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

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    Solidagro, a government-supported agricultural NGO, said the Aquino government must “immediately and thoroughly investigate the killings and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

    In a letter to the Philippine Embassy in Belgium, the group raised their concern following the September 1 murder of Emerito Samarca and two other community leaders in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

    Samarca was the executive of Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development (Alcadev), an organization supported by Solidagro.

    Also killed were the chairperson of a people’s organization called Mapasu Dionel Campos and his cousin, Datu Aurelio Sinzo.

    Allegedly behind the killings were the members of Magahat-Bagani Force, a militia trained and supported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

    Solidagro general coordinator Jan Vanhuysse, in a letter addressed to Ambassador Victoria Bataclan, expressed concern over the human rights situation in the Philippines.

    “More specifically, we would like you to take notice of the killings on September 1 of three persons related to the development support program of the Belgian NGO Solidagro in your country,” Vanhuysse said.

    Alcadev is a school supported by Solidagro for many years now. The school has been implementing community-based food security program in communities threatened by large-scale mining operations and the monoculture plantations.

    Solidagro is also working with farming communities in West Africa and Bolivia.

    “We expect the Philippine government to immediately and thoroughly investigate the killings and the involvement of the AFP, and bring the perpetrators to justice,” Vanhuysse added.

    It also urged the Philippine government “to ensure the safety of our staff and that of our partner organizations in your country.”

    Lumad communities in Bukidnon, Davao City, and Talaingod in Davao del Norte have also been attacked by militia and soldiers in the past months, resulting in massive displacement.

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