The AFP’s mind comes out of Winnie Monsod’s lips

Letter to the Editor
September 28,2015
With all due respect to Prof. Winnie Monsod, her red tagging might just spur intensification of human rights violations in Lumad communities. Her red tagging of people’s organizations and human rights groups only encourages, and even justifies, more extrajudicial killings, threats and harassments among the Lumad who are trying to protect their ancestral land and culture.  
By trying to defend the AFP, as she is part of Oplan Bayanihan’s multisectoral advisory group, Prof. Monsod has veered away from the real issue: that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is involved in a string of  human rights abuses among the Lumad; coopted and bastardized the traditional bagani of the Lumad and has trained and used paramilitary groups to sow division and terrorize the communities. 

The  act to whitewash the violations against the Lumad by red tagging is a sure sign of panic, a work of dimwits, or someone who has been so isolated from the realities, especially in rural areas. It’s tempting to simply ignore this but history also tells us that most of the victims of extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, and illegal arrest and detention were first victims of the regime and the military’s red tagging. Prof. Monsod could have, at least, considered this. 

No one is buying the AFP’s denial of its links with the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary groups involved in the massacre of three Lumad leaders, except of course Prof. Monsod. The attempt to discredit the communities victimized by the AFP-paramilitary groups backfired when the so-called datu of Mindanao turned out to be known leaders of the AFP’s  paramilitary groups.  

Being a self-confessed pro-Army, Prof. Monsod,  may echo the same lies peddled by the AFP but she has no excuse to resort to victim blaming and fueling the Lumad versus Lumad line of the AFP. But she opts to only see red when she talks of  Lumad organizations, Lumad schools, progressive people’s organizations and human rights groups and refused to see that the “datu” – Marcial Belandres, Nestor Apas, and Lumansad Sibogan—are as guilty of human rights violations as the AFP.   

Below are some of the documented involvements of the AFP-backed ‘datu’ in human rights violations among Lumad:

1. Marcial Belandres was identified by witnesses as one of the killers of  Lumad leader Henry Alameda on October 24, 2014.  Alameda was dragged from his house towards the forest in Sitio Cabalawan, San Isidro, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. He was shot in the chest when he held on to a post and resisted the attempt to bring him out of the community. The killing happened when units under the 24th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army  were conducting combat operations in Lianga, Surigao del Sur and in San Lorenzo, Agusan del Sur. Specific units involved in the combat operations were the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion based in St. Christine, Lianga under Col. Jesus Durante, 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, and the 3rd Special Forces under the 401st Brigade PA, members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU); members of  the Calpit Egua paramilitary group were also seen with the AFP units.

Marcial Belandres' younger brother Waway Belandres is married to the sister of Calpet Egua, a known leader of a paramilitary group in Agusan del Sur. Waway was involved in the disappearance of Jojo Tejero and Elde Martinez on October 22, 2014 in Sitio Kapatagan, San Roque, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. The same Army units mentioned above were also with them when Tejero and Martinez were last seen. On October 24, 2014, Waway and the Egua paramilitary group also indiscriminately fired at Brgy. Captain Alejandro Dumaguit and his children Elejen and Aldren Dumaguit; and neighbors Alfredo Undayon, Victor Undayon and minors “Enggoy” and “Lynlyn” in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur. 

2. Nestor Apas is a known leader of Alamara, a paramilitary group in Davao del Norte. He is a self- declared tribal leader of Langilan Manobo tribe in Kapalong, Davao del Norte. On February 6, 2015, Apas was seen with soldiers from the 60th IB-PA, led by 1Lt. Roldan and 2Lt. Carino, who encamped at the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, a Lumad school in Kapalong, Davao del Norte. He was involved in harassing teachers and students. He also instigated and facilitated the filing of trumped-up criminal charges against leaders and supporters of the Manobo evacuees who are seeking temporary shelter at UCCP Haran, Davao City. Apas was with the Alamara paramilitary group and Congresswoman Nancy Catamco during the raid at the UCCP on  July 23, 2015.

3. Lumansad Sibogan is a leader of Alamara and a member of the Tribal Council of Talaingod of the National Commission of Indigenous People. He was among those seen with the 38th IB-PA who encamped in schools in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and forcibly recruiting Lumad into Alamara.

Prof. Monsod’s question ‘are these lumads or NPA wolves in lumad clothing’ speaks of one thing: that for her Dionel Campos, Juvello Sinzo, Emerito Samarca, Emer Somina, Welmer Somina, Norman Samia, Herminio Samia, Jobert Samia, Juvy Capion and her sons John Mark and Jordan and 45 other Lumad, and even Fr. Pops Tentorio and all other supporters of Lumad deserved to be killed. 

Tell that to their families, Mareng Winnie. Bawal po ang pasaway

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