CAFGU strikes anew, indigenous leader shot and tortured to death

Karapatan today received report of another case of torture and extrajudicial killing of an indigenous leader, Genesis Ambason Saguitan, 23, secretary general of TAGDUMAHAN Lumad organization in the municipality of San Luis, Agusan del Sur. Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay calls the latest incident as “an affirmation of the continuing vestiges of martial law under the Aquino government.”

Genesis Ambason 

Saguitan’s relatives found his body mutilated by the perpetrators, identified as members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) attached to the 26th IB Detachment in Sitio Tambo, Brgy. Binikalan, San Luis Agusan del Sur. His body was on the road side, some 130 meters away from the detachment of the 26th IB in Sitio Tambo. 

According to the report sent to Karapatan, Almira, Saguitan’s wife who is eight months pregnant with their first child, “wept while cleaning his husband’s body” when she saw the two gunshot wounds in his right chest and another two gunshot wounds in the hip area, near his spine. His face and chest were covered with bruises. Ambason’s teeth are all gone. His head was deformed, and his face unrecognizable because of the bruises due to heavy beating. 

Palabay said that the brutality of Saguitan’s death is “reminiscent of how Fr. Tullo Favali, PIME was killed by paramilitary forces in 1985, under the Marcos dictatorship. In 2011, the same paramilitary forces killed another PIME priest, Fr. Pops Tentorio.”

The report indicated that, prior to the incident, Saguitan and four others were on their way to Sitio Tambo, Brgy. Binikilan to mine and buy gold. He had with him 18,000 pesos in cash. They were riding a motorcycle but decided to hike uphill when the motorcycle broke down. Some 200 meters away from Sitio Tambo, Ambason and his group decided to rest as they were already exhausted from hiking. From where they rested, they could see the detachment of the 26th IB; and those at the detachment could also see them. 

A few minutes later, they heard footsteps approaching them. Upon hearing this, Ambasong immediately stood up and pointed his flashlight to where the sound was coming from. But as soon as he turned on his flashlight, they were immediately fired at. A series of shots fired also came from the direction of the detachment.  Ambason’s companions ran to different direction toward the forest, leaving behind Ambason, who could no longer move because of gunshot wound. That was the last time he was seen alive. His wife would later find out that the PhP18,00 he was carrying was lost. 

Ambason was active in the anti-mining campaign in the area of San Luis. The CAFGU, according to the residents in the community, were deployed in the area because of the anti-mining campaign. Ambason was also involved in the anti-militarization campaign which he believed has brought about a string of human rights violations among his fellow Lumad.