25th massacre under Duterte’s counterinsurgency campaign: Karapatan strongly condemns massacre in Lianga, Surigao del Sur

Human rights group Karapatan strongly condemned yet another massacre in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, the 25th massacre under the Duterte administration in what the group said is “a testimony of the regime’s hideous legacy of killings that count up to the last year of this regime.”

“We condemn in the strongest terms this latest massacre in Lianga, and ask with much rage, how many more will Duterte’s state forces kill and kill? This is the 25th massacre under Duterte’s counterinsurgency campaign, with victims killed en masse and with no mercy in all the other cases of massacres in different parts of the country. Up to the last year of Rodrigo Duterte’s term, vicious State forces continue to shed blood of farmers and Lumad people,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

Reports from the ground by Karapatan - Caraga accounted that at around 1:00 in the afternoon of June 15, troops belonging to the 3rd Special Forces Battalion (SFB) of the Philippine Army fired upon a group of six farmers who were on their way to the poblacion to buy rice after harvesting abaca hemp at their farm, killing three while the three others ran for safety.

Killed were farmers Willy Rodriguez, Lenie Rivas and Angel Rivas in Sitio Panukmoan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Belonging to the Lumad-Manobo tribe, they were residents of Sitio Manluy-a, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Angel Rivas, 12, was a Grade 6 student of the Lumad school Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) while her lesbian sister Lenie and cousin Willy Rodriguez are members of Lumad organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU).

“We stand with the people of Lianga with their outrage, their being victims of this bloody rampage against the Lumad people. The perpetrators are mad killers, with clearly no respect to life and rights. They look at the Lumad people like hunted prey, lying to their teeth and falsely tagging the victims as members of the New People’s Army (NPA),” Palabay stated.

3rd SFB troops purportedly brought the lifeless bodies of the three to the military brigade headquarters in St. Christine, Lianga and presented the victims as NPA members.

The military troops of the 3rd SFB led by Captain Aranas and the 48th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army have been encamping in the community of Manluy-a for several months and had established a military detachment in Km. 18.

The 25 incidents of massacres under the Duterte administration resulting in the killing of 121 individuals were documented by Karapatan in Sumilao, Bukidnon; Palayan, Nueva Ecija; Masbate City and Cawayan, Mobo and Mandaon towns, Masbate; San Nicolas, Pangasinan; Gubat and Bulan towns, Sorsogon; Lake Sebu and Polomolok towns, South Cotabato; Siaton, Negros Oriental; Bato and Ragay towns, Camarines Sur; Matalam, Cotabato; Antique; Patikul, Sulu; Baguio City; Polomok, South Cotabato; Kabacan, North Cotabato; Baras, Rizal; Capiz; and Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

“These killings should be met with all the strongest condemnation possible from different sectors. Justice for Angel Rivas, Willy Rodriguez, and Lenie Rivas!” Palabay ended.