40 days since Lianga Massacre, murderers still sow terror

"Forty (40) days after the Lianga Massacre, AFP-backed leaders of paramilitary groups Bobby and Jojo Tejero are still sowing terror, and attacks against the Lumad continue. The warrant of arrest against the murderers has yet to be served, and the indigenous communities that forcibly evacuated from their communities have not gone back to their homes because of continuing military operations," Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

Bobby and Jojo Tejero, members of paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani are among those identified by residents of Han-ayan and Km. 16 as the killers of Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo. The Lumad leaders were shot in the presence of the community and while elements of the 36th and 75th Infantry Battalion and Special Forces of the Philippine Army were around the community.

"After several dialogues with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Justice Department, after a number of so-called investigations, still no warrant of arrest has been issued to the murderers," Palabay said. "Worse, the Lumad communities in Lianga are still in the evacuation in Tandag Sports Complex and the army troops are still in their homes," Palabay said.

Just last week, residents of Sitio Polonpon and Sitio Boringon Brgy saw Bobby Tejero, with all his brazenness, in Mahaba, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur with elements of the Special Forces. Fearing a repeat of the Lianga massacre, about 1,000 residents were forced to evacuate after hearing a series of gunfires on October 1.

"Pres. Aquino has callously disregarded national and international clamor to bring in the United Nation’s Special Rapporteurs to investigate the massacre of Campos, Sinzo and Alcadev executive director Emerito Samarca. But the BS Aquino regime, as usual, only pretends to take measures to bring justice to the slain Lumad leaders to cover up its involvement in the continuing rights violations in the country,” added Palabay.

Karapatan has requested the UN Special Rapporteurs on Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on the Rights of the Indigenous People's, on Situation of Human Rights Defenders, and on the Promotion of the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons. The SRs however, need an official invitation from the government to visit the country and conduct their investigation. In their September 22 statement, the UN experts reiterated their request to visit and conduct investigations in the Philippines. However, Aquino, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, declined to grant the said request.

Karapatan is wary on the so-called investigations conducted or will be conducted by government agencies, “especially with how the CHR conducted its probe on the forcible evacuation of the 800 Lumad from Talaingod and Kapalong Davao del Sur.”

“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 BS Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan because they call for the pull-out of military troops in their communities,” said Palabay.

"As we mourn the killing of Campos, Sinzo and Samarca, we mark their courage to fight for the land, rights, and culture of the Lumad. We stand with their families and communities in their cry for justice. Together, we will never stop in pushing for this US puppet-haciendero government to pay for its crimes against the Lumad and the Filipino people," Palabay said.

"Campos, Sinzo and Samarca will never be forgotten as they had served the country by offering their lives to defend the poorest and the most oppressed majority. It is through their lives that every peace-loving Filipino and the international community learned about the Lumad struggle and the need to become part of it," Palabay concluded.

 

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