Three months after three indigenous people (lumad) were gunned down, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is yet to make public the results of its investigation of the killings and harassments allegedly committed by the military against the tribesmen in Mindanao in southern Philippines.
CHR Chairman Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon recently said his staff is still working on the final draft of a report on the slaying.
“We are almost done. We will let you know of our findings,” Gascon told The Manila Times.
He clarified that the report will be submitted to the Department of Justice for evaluation of the CHR’s recommendations.
“For sure, we found some disturbing facts and those are included in the recommendations,” Gascon said, alluding to possible filing of criminal charges against certain individuals.
The lumad are accusing the Armed Forces of the Philippines of murdering three Manobo members last September 1 at Km 16, Sitio Han-yan in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga town, Surigao del Sur province, who were attacked by armed men.
Killed were Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo.
A certain Belen Itallo survived the assault.
Prior to this, last August 18 in the municipality of Pangantucan in Bukidnon province, five Manobo farmers, namely Welmer Somina, Herminio and Jobert Samia, including their two children Emer, 17, and Norman, 14, were shot by armed men.
The military said they were killed in a clash with communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.
Samarca, 54, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Livelihood and Development (Alcadev), was found dead with a slit in his neck in one of the classrooms while Itallo, a staff member, survived.
Campos and Sinzo, notable Manobo leaders, were shot dead in front of the barangay (village) residents at a basketball court.
Campos, 41, was chairman of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sumusunod (Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation or simply Mapasu), an organization of 23 Manobo communities in Surigao del Sur.
Sinzo, 69, was a Manobo chief from Kiwangan, Lianga.
Lumad leaders met with President Benigno Aquino 3rd in Malacañang recently.
The lumad have not returned to their homes since the killing of the three Manobo tribesmen and thousands of others are still staying in various evacuation centers, the biggest is at a gym in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.
JAIME R. PILAPIL