TANDAG CITY, Surigao del Sur — The Senate began Thursday its inquiry into the killings of Lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur.
Present during the inquiry held at a hotel here were witnesses to the killings, local government officials, church groups, and the military.
The Probe on Lumad Killings was conducted by Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate committee on peace, unity and reconciliation, and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the committee on cultural communities.
Before the hearing, Guingona visited the evacuation camp of the Lumads in Tandag Provincial Sports Center.
Guingona told the evacuees that they were “here to find out who did it, and kung sino dapat ang managot (and who should be held accountable).”
“We have to solve this problem as soon as possible,” said Guingona.
“They can not stay here longer. They have to go home and live a normal life,” he said.
On the early morning of September 1, the school director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), Emerito Samarca, and community leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Jovello Sinzo were killed by identified members of the paramilitary force Magahat Bagani group in Sitio Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Samarca was killed inside the school’s faculty room, while the two were killed outside in front of the residents.
No perpetrator has been arrested so far a month after the incident, although witnesses filed criminal complaints on September 8 against Marcos Bocales, Marcial Belandrez and Kalpet Egua before the Surigao del Sur prosecutor office. The three reportedly led the attack against the residents. Twenty other John Does were included in the complaint.
Lumad evacuees who are camped at the sports center have reached almost 3,000.
The two-day inquiry ended at 5:00 pm today and will resume tomorrow. (davaotoday.com)