CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — A group of young Indigenous Peoples (Lumad) appeals anew for justice for the victims of the massacres in Lianga, Surigao del Sur over the past years.
On September 1, the Kabataan Para sa Tribung Pilipino (Katribu) held a candle-lighting protest in front of the Commission on Human Rights “to remember and mourn” the victims as they criticized the Marcos-Duterte administration “for its lack of accountability”.
To this day, justice for the victims remains elusive.
Seven years ago, on September 1, 2015, members of a paramilitary group Magahat shot and killed Emerito Samarca and the Manobo lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo.
Villagers, including women and children, were rounded up by the Magahat group on a basketball court in Han-ayan village where Campos and Sinzo were killed in front of them.
Magahat is identified with the military’s 36th Infantry Battalion.
Campos was the chairperson of the Lumad organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod while Samarca was the executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development.
On June 15, 2021, six years after their death, another three Lumad were murdered by military troops belonging to the 3rd Special Battalion Force.
The bodies of Willy Rodriguez, Lenie Rivas, and 12-year-old Angel Rivas were riddled with bullets. The soldiers claimed the three were members of the New People’s Army and they fought with the government troops.
But survivors said otherwise.
They said their group asked permission from the soldiers stationed nearby before entering the area to harvest abaca at Sitio Panukmoan, Diatagon village.
According to the Philippine Task Force for the Indigenous People’s Rights, the three victims were with a group of residents when soldiers opened fire at them.
Katribu, together with the victims’ kin and friends, has been appealing for justice and truth, as it lamented that forced evacuations, innocent killings, and land-grabbing continue to haunt Lumad areas. (davaotoday.com)