TANDAG CITY, Surigao del Sur – Governor Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur renews his calls to disband paramilitary forces who are allegedly responsible for the killing of officers of a tribal school and the evacuation of thousands of residents now camped at Tandag City provincial sports complex.
On 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.
Campos is the chairperson of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu), a Lumad organization known for its opposition to mining operations.
Gov. Pimentel told the Senate inquiry on the killing of tribal leaders that he has been requesting for the disbandment of paramilitary groups last year after the killing of Henry Alameda in San Miguel.
Human rights group Karapatan said Alameda is a council member of Mapasu. According to Karapatan, he was killed on October 24 last year by “soldiers of the 2nd Scout Ranger Batallion, who were on patrol in Upper Oregon, Logdeck, San Isidro, Lianga.”
“The killing was witnessed by Henry’s wife and their children,” Karapatan said.
Karapatan said that the Scout Rangers and Special Forces personnel of the Army’s 401st Brigade “have been launching military operations in the mountain areas of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Norte.”
“Accompanying the military troops are members of the CAFGU and paramilitary group of Calpit Egua,” it said. Egua was among those named by witnesses as those who led the attack in Barangay Diatagon. The other two were Marcos Bocales and Marcial Belandrez.
“I have been requesting the military and the police to disband the paramilitary group due to the series of killings in the province,” said Pimentel.
“If there will be a civilian bringing weapon, he will be apprehended. But these Baganis are still not apprehended,” he said.
He said he even requested the authorities to disband the said groups a day before the September 1 incident.
He said that the paramilitary group is camping in a highway of Barobo, Surigao del Sur, and asked “why is that the Army nor the police do not apprehend them?”
Fr. Glenn Acosta, a parish priest in Barobo said that the group is even “extorting the people, asking for the same thing given to the New People’s Army and looking for rebel returnees who surrendered a long time ago.”
He said they recognized Bobby Tejero (one of the identified suspects on the killings on September 1.) in the group who is extorting the residents in Barobo.
Sr. Maria Gemma Abellan, ICM missionary sister assigned in Barangay Karomata in San Miguel said that “there are presence of paramilitary group near the military camp in the village of Umalag.”
She said the group is “only 1.5 kilometers away from the Army camp.”
The group is said to be led by a certain Datu Hasmin Acebedo.
However, the military denied that they know the whereabouts of the paramilitary unit involved in the killings. During the Senate probe, Col. Isidro Purisima commander of the 402nd Brigade “categorically” denied that they are supporting the Magahat Bagani Force.
The Army also said they have no knowledge or are not aware of the reported allegations that the paramilitary presence near Army camp.
But Pimentel warned that “unless these groups will be disarmed and disbanded, there will be more killings.”
He added that the local government “cannot apprehend them, for they are armed, while we are not.” (davaotoday.com)