• Justice elusive for slain ’lumad’

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    The lumad (indigenous people) leaders and an educator who were killed allegedly by government soldiers and paramilitary group on September 1 in Surigao del Sur would not get justice under the Aquino administration because all efforts to ascertain the truth were rejected by the government, a human rights organization said over the weekend.

    First, Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of Karapatan, said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has turned down a request of the UN Special Rapporteur to investigate the killings of the lumad leaders and the educator.

    Second, Palabay said, no warrants of arrest has been issued against the perpetrators of the multiple murder despite a dialogue among Karapatan, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Department of Justice (DOJ).

    According to her, Karapatan believes that armed men belonging to Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group were the killers of lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo and Alcadev Executive Director Emerito Samarca in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

    Bobby and Jojo Tejero of Magahat-Bagani were among those identified by residents of Han-ayan and Km. 16 and allegedly killed Campos, Sinzo and Samarca while members of the 36th and 75th Infantry Battalion and Special Forces of the Philippine Army were roaming the community.

    Palabay said continued inaction of the government is extremely alarming because it meant that the victims’ families could not get justice.

    Worse, she added, the suspected killers remain in the lumad community.

    “Forty [40] days after the Lianga Massacre, [the]military-backed leaders of the paramilitary group Bobby and Jojo Tejero are still sowing terror and attacks against the lumad [community]. [Thus] the indigenous [people who]forcibly evacuated from their communities have not gone back to their homes because of continuing military operations,” Karapatan said.

    Palabay said the lumad people from Lianga are still in an evacuation center in Tandag Sports Complex while Army troops are staying in the lumad community.

    She added that Karapatan is “wary” if the investigation of the killing of Campos, Sinzo, and Samarca will only be entrusted to the CHR, which, she claimed, is biased against victims of human rights violations.

    “The CHR commissioners have resorted to victim-blaming in their hearing on the evacuees at the UCCP-Haran in Davao City. The CHR, in effect, has questioned the lumad for not taking part in [the government’s]Oplan Bayanihan]. The lumad are calling for the pullout of military troops in their communities.”

    Oplan Bayanihan is the Aquino administration’s anti-communist program.

    CHR is now headed by Chito Gascon, a member of the Liberal Party (LP) and an activist during the 1980s while studying at the University of the Philippines.

    Gascon replaced Loretta Ann Rosales, a former congresswoman from Akbayan party-list and former top official of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

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    1 Comment

    1. Vic Penetrante on

      Sorry for the “slain lumads,” because the present administration are “maniacs out to kill democracy,” according to RDT and who are “members of the UN for convenience,” according to your editorial. How can there be human rights and justice?