Posts

KODAO RADIO: Ang kabataang Lumad at ang kanilang paaralan

Listen to Manobo high school student Yenyela Undayon explain why she chose to study at ALCADEV. Listen to a 15-year old girl tell and sing the story of the Lumad.

This is Tala-Akayan’s October 29, 2015 episode, originally aired over Veritas846.

Lumad join protest rally at 43rd anniversary of Martial Law declaration

The Lumad and teachers of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) joined cause-oriented groups in a protest-rally in Manila on the occassion of the 43rd anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law. They narrated how government soldiers massacred Alcadev executive director Emerito Samarca, Datu Juvello Sinzo and Dionel Campos last September 1.

STREETWISE: Lumads in Mindanao under attack by Carol Pagaduan-Araullo

IMG_1784
(Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao of bulatlat.com)

James Cameron’s 2009 box office hit film “Avatar”, about an alien world where primitive but highly evolved inhabitants defend their habitat, moved audiences across the globe, including the Filipino urbanite audience. We were enthralled by the lush and luminescent world of beings who end up waging a kind of asymmetrical warfare against ruthless interlopers out to plunder rare and costly minerals from their planet. We cheered on these beings’ defense of their territory, and more importantly, of the life force that appears to be the embodiment of “Mother Nature”, as the triumph of good versus evil, of Nature over corporate greed, and of a united people over high-tech weaponry.

It is said that the film is a thinly-veiled tribute by the film maker to indigenous peoples of the Amazon who are resisting inroads by multinational corporations into their lands to exploit natural resources at the expense of the environment, the habitat of endangered flora and fauna, and the homes of vanishing native tribes.

Here in the Philippines, there are several Lumad groups in Mindanao locked in similar life-and-death struggle against huge corporate mining interests (and other multinational corporations or MNCs bringing in so-called “development” programs to the Lumad’s ancestral lands). The military and police in the name of counterinsurgency dubbed Oplan Bayanihan under the BS Aquino regime, provide armed security for these invading multinational corporations. Paramilitary groups under the control of the military act as “force multipliers”, or cheap, local reinforcements for the counterinsurgency campaigns. In practice, these paramilitary groups are utilized for “dirty war” tactics such as extrajudicial killings and even massacres that the government can wash its hands off while it coddles the perpetrators.

The history of this struggle is soaked in blood yet is repeatedly whitewashed by government propaganda (most assiduously generated by the AFP and parroted automatically by Malacanang); ignored if not one-sidedly reported on by dominant mass media that relies heavily on government press releases; and blithely disregarded by the general public.

The most recent atrocity took place last September 1. Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development, Inc. (ALCADEV) was killed by the military and government-backed indigenous paramilitary forces. His body was found lying in a pool of blood, with stab wounds on his neck, and his throat slit. Dionel Campos, chairperson of MAPASU (Persevering Struggle for Future Manobo Generations), and his cousin Aurelio “Bello” Sinzo were killed before the terrified community of Han-ayan, in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur.
According to the human rights group, Karapatan, facts and circumstances so far gathered point to elements of the 36th IB-PA, elements of the 75th IB-PA and Special Forces of the Philippine Army; and elements of the paramilitary Magahat/Bagani Forces/Marcos Bocales Group as the perpetrators.

Two days before the grisly murders, Magahat members were reported by witnesses to have burned down the school cooperative building. They also threatened to massacre the entire community if they would not leave the area. Military and paramilitary forces occupied the school and adjoining areas of the community.

The killings of Campos and Sinzo were carried out in broad daylight. ALCADEV’S executive director Samarca was found dead after being taken into custody by military and paramilitary men. More than 300 families or 2000 individuals coming from the municipalities of San Miguel and Lianga have evacuated to Tandag City while scores more have sought sanctuary elsewhere.

Karapatan points out, “Since 2005, members of Mapasu and ALCADEV, who are active in the defense of Lumad ancestral lands against incursion by big business, have been victims of red tagging, trumped-up criminal charges, illegal arrests and detention, torture, and forced evacuation. ALCADEV was established in July 19, 2004 as an alternative learning system especially designed to provide secondary education to indigent indigenous youth — the Manobo, Higaonon, Banwaon, Talaandig and Mamanwa – who live in the mountains of Surigao del Norte and Sur, Agusan del Norte and Sur. ALCADEV is born out of the joint effort of indigenous people’s organizations in the CARAGA region. MAPASU is a regional organization of indigenous peoples in Caraga and is well known for its strong stance against intrusion of mining companies into their communities.”

The recent killings are not isolated incidents. Heightened attacks on Lumad communities especially on Lumad schools have been noted since last year. The government has caused the disruption and even total closure of these schools by the military’s encampment on school grounds; orders from the Education Department for the schools to cease operation due to various pretexts; threats to and actual bodily harm inflicted on school officials, teachers, leaders of Lumad organizations as well as members of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines who provide invaluable support to the schools.

One must ask why the concentrated attack on Lumad schools and communities? The military is forthright. They suspect these Lumad communities to be “infested” by the communist-led New People’s Army and the Lumad schools to be nothing but NPA “indoctrination” camps. In truth, these Lumad communities have demonstrated their determination and capacity to fight for their ancestral domain and their distinctive way of life in defiance of government-backed corporations trying to grab their lands, plunder their resources, and exploit their people then leave them worse off than before.

Even assuming for the sake of argument that the Lumad communities concerned are sympathetic to the NPA who abound in the mountainous terrain that is their home and who may have taught them how to stand up for their rights, does this make them open season for human rights violations perpetrated with impunity? Does this justify brazen acts of state terrorism by the Aquino regime to what amounts in practice as state-sponsored ethnic cleansing of these Lumad communities?

According to Anakbayan-USA, “The spate of human rights violations, military operations on communities, and killings of community leaders are products of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan, wherein the Philippine military is serving as an ‘investment defense force’, or as a private military for large corporations.” The group also pointed out the role of the U.S. government in aggravating the human rights situation in the Philippines. “Oplan Bayanihan is patterned directly from the U.S. Counterinsurgency (COIN) Guide released in 2009. The U.S. has been complicit and has continued to condone these atrocities through its $50 million annual military aid to the Philippine military,”

The blood of these martyrs of the Lumad people’s struggle for self-determination cries out for justice. Those of us who could sympathize with the heroic but fictitious alien defenders of “Mother Nature” and their sacred territory in the film “Avatar” need to open our eyes to the reality in our midst. Then let us ask ourselves, “Whose side are we on this time?” #

Published in Business World
7 September 2015

#StopLumadKillings #StopKillingLumads

Manobo evacuees surprise Mar Roxas with blunt answers

TANDAG CITY, SURIGAO DEL SUR–Manobo evacuees surprised presidential aspirant Mar Roxas with blunt answers to his questions when he visited an evacuation site last September 8, his last day in office as interior and local government secretary.

Roxas visited his party-mate Governor Johnny T. Pimentel who brought him to the provincial sports center where about three thousand Manobos from 33 communities evacuated to escape the ongoing paramilitary operations that killed three of their leaders last September 1.

Pimentel was leading Roxas to the main grandstand where majority of the evacuees have pitched their tents when the Liberal Party standard-bearer unexpectedly turned around and instead proceeded to a small tent nearer the entrance.

The governor appeared surprised by Roxas’ move and stopped on his tracks before following his guest to the tent.

Backslapping an evacuee as he entered the tent, a smiling Roxas asked the Manobos, “Why aren’t you going back to Liang yet?” referring to the town of Lianga, the site of the massacre of three Lumad leaders.

“Because there are still soldiers there, sir,” came a swift reply in Visayan from an evacuee.

Roxas pressed on and asked, “So, aren’t soldiers supposed to protect you?”

A seated Manobo woman immediately retorted: “What protection? They (soldiers) are the ones killing our families there.”

Roxas again asked, “Soldiers?” to which the woman immediately asked back: “Who else? Bagani and the soldiers.”

Pimentel, who by this time caught up with Roxas, clarified, “Because the Bagani Forces arrive there wearing uniforms.”

The governor then asked Manobo leader Bertolo Garay to narrate to Roxas the massacre of Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo in Barangay Diatagon in Lianga town this province.

Samarca was the executive director of Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), a secondary school for Manobo youth, while Campos was the chairperson of the Manobo people’s organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sa Sumusunod (Mapasu).

Samarca was taken by members of the so-called Magahat/Bagani Forces, an armed group Pimentel said were formed, armed and trained by the Philippine Army for its counter-insurgency operations against the New People’s Army.

Alcadev students and teachers later found Samarca dead in a room in the school, his throat slit and his heart pierced by a high caliber bullet.

Campos was shot on his forehead in front of dozens of witnesses in a nearby basketball court while Sinzo was shot several times by the paramilitary force.

“(We left our) Mapasu(-organized) communities because of the military belonging to the 36th and 75th Infantry Battalions, along with their bandits (Magahat/Bagani Forces),” Garay said.

“Before dawn of September 1, they roused the residents from sleep. They first took Alcadev’s director, Sir Emok (Samarca’s nickname) and they killed him by slitting his throat. Then they herded Alcadev’s staff to the village center,” he said.

Roxas then interrupted Garay and, with a pointed finger, challenged the journalists taking videos of the exchange.

“Teka muna. (Wait.) Who are you?” Roxas said.

He said Garay could be interviewed later but said he they were having a briefing so he could listen.

A woman staff of Roxas then placed herself between Roxas and the journalists and waved her hands in front of the camera to stop the filming.

Roxas spent about 15 more minutes inside the tent, mostly by calling Social Work and Development secretary Dinky Soliman, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles and health secretary Janette Garin.

He refused Pimentel’s offer for him to see more evacuees in the grandstands.

In a brief interview with journalists after emerging from the tent, Roxas promised help for the evacuees in light of the emerging health concerns such as chicken pox.

When asked about the evacuees’ complaint about militarisation, Roxas echoed the police line that the perpetrators of the massacre were not members of the AFP.

But when asked for his reaction to Pimentel’s repeated declaration that the Magahat/Bagani Forces were created by the military, Roxas said the matter should be left with the Philippine National Police, which he said was already conducting an investigation.

He refused to answer the question about the fate of the Lumad schools as he beat a hasty retreat to have lunch with the local journalists before heading for Bislig City in the southern part of this province.

United Church of Christ in the Philippines Bishop Modesto Villasanta for his part said Roxas should first help in disbanding the paramilitary groups.

“The services these evacuees need are already being addressed by Governor Pimentel. But disarming and disbanding these groups as well as giving justice to the victims by apprehending the suspects is the best way the government could help,” Villasanta said.

#StopLumadKillings #StopKillingLumads

Manila activists condemn latest Lumad killings

Data from Karapatan-CARAGA
September 1, 2015

MAGAHAT/BAGANI FORCES KILL THREE LEADERS ANEW
IN LIANGA, SURIGAO DEL SUR

September 1, 2015 at around 4 am in Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur – Known elements of the Magahat-Bagani Forces opened fire at Dionel Campos and Aurelio Sinzo as community members were roused from bed and forced to gather in the middle of the community early this morning. At around the same time, the dead body of Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development(ALCADEV), was found in one of the schoolrooms, tied around the neck and extremities and with stab wounds.

Previously, on August 30, after the two-day celebration of ALCADEV’s Foundation Day, about 30 elements of the 36th IBPA and Special Forces with members of the Magahat-Bagani Force occupied the school’s function hall and the school grounds. The Magahat threatened to massacre the community should they refuse to evacuate within two days.

On August 31, the cooperative store of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) was burned by the Magahat who also indiscriminately fire their guns that terrorized the community. Residents of Han-ayan, the school staff and some other guests then decided to retreat to nearby Km. 16. As they were preparing to leave that afternoon, Samarca was detained at the ALCADEV grounds by some members of the Magahat. This was the last time he was seen alive.

All cellphones and cameras of the residents, faculty and staff were seized by the Magahat before pulling out of Km. 16 after the killing. Soldiers of the 36th IBPA and the SF, who stayed in Km.9, are conducting their usual patrols took no action on the killings.

“This is a clear indication of collusion between the AFP and the armed Magahat-Bagani Forces,” Eliza Pangilinan, Karapatan Caraga secretary general, said. “Despite the obvious presence of the military who are purportedly there for internal security, these killings continue to happen with impunity.”

The Magahat-Bagani Forces led by Marcos Bocales, who were also implicated in the killing of Henry Alameda and Aldren Dumaguit in October 24, 2014, are also identified as the perpetrators of the latest massacre.

“We call on the law enforcement agencies and the local prosecutors to seriously investigate the increasing spate of killings that are perpetrated by these groups. Instead of filing charges against activists left and right they should look at the apparent connection between the military and these armed paramilitary groups, file charges and arrest them and bring a stop to impunity. This is the only way that communities can truly feel secure. ”, Panganiban said.#

Stop the killings of indigenous peoples and advocates in Mindanao!

IMG_0118

(Photo: Dionel Campos at ALCADEV school)

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) is outraged by the killing rampage of paramilitary groups and State security forces in Mindanao against Lumad activists, environmentalists, human rights defenders, educators and advocates for the indigenous peoples. CPA condemns these killings in the highest terms possible.

The long-time collusion of notorious paramilitary groups and State security forces in Mindanao resulted in the long list of killings, enforced disappearances, evacuations against the Lumads and advocates for peace, human rights and environment. The recent spate of killings in Mindanao mirrors the height of impunity under the BS Aquino regime. In his last year in power, BS Aquino is unleashing its deadly attack against human rights, environmental defenders and peace advocates.

Based on data provided by KARAPATAN, on September 1, 2015, two Lumad leaders and a champion for indigenous people’s education in Mindanao were killed in Surigao del Sur. Emerito Samarca, the executive director of ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development) was gunned down by paramilitary forces Mahagat/Bagani within the ALCADEV campus in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Samarca was found dead in a classroom in Alcadev with a stab wound, and his neck, arms and legs tied up. On the other hand, Dionel Campos, chairperson of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo were killed by the same paramilitary forces while they were coming out of a house in Diatagon, Surigao del Sur.

2014_June_ALcadev foundation day

(Photo: Emerito Samarca, third from left)

KARAPATAN further stated that two days prior to the killing, the paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani Force and elements of the 36th IB encamped at the ALCADEV school compound and occupied the function hall and parts of the school grounds. During the encampment, the Magahat group threatened the school’s faculty members, staffs and community members that they will massacre the community if the people will not leave in two days.

On August 31, 2015, the MAGAHAT group burned down the community cooperative store of MAPASU while indiscriminately firing around the community. Samarca, according to initial report was held and detained by some armed members of Magahat before he was killed. On the evening of August 31, the Alcadev faculty and most of the residents in Han-ayan went to Km. 16 for safety. At around 4 a.m., Magahat Forces went from house to house in Km. 16 and ordered the residents to get out of their houses and go to the center of the community. That was when Campos and Sinzo were met by a volley of gunfire from brothers Loloy and Bobby Tejero of the Magahat/Bagani Force.

20150831_091914-1-1[1]

(Photo: This picture was taken on August 31 at around 9:30 am of elements of the 36th IBPA at the school shed at the entrance to ALCADEV. The soldiers slept in the TRIFPSS school building the day before and occupied ALCADEV’s function hall. This shed is right across the MAPASU coop that was burned down later that afternoon.)

Magahat members also confiscated all cellphones and cameras from the residents and ALCADEV staff and remaining visitors in the community.
ALCADEV is an alternative learning system especially designed to provide secondary education to indigent indigenous youth – the Manobo, Banwaon, Higanon, Talaandig, and Mamanwa of Surigao del Norte and Sur and Agusan Norte and Sur. ALCADEV have been established by Lumads themselves with the help of cause-oriented groups. However, instead of recognizing their valuable contribution, the Lumad community school has been subjected to harassment and malicious accusations of the 36th IB and their rabid paramilitary groups that ALCADEV is a NPA school.

The killing rampage by the Magahat forces also resulted to the massive evacuation of more than 4,000 Lumad families from their communities in Surigao del Sur.

We should hold BS Aquino accountable to these heinous crimes committed against people. We also call on peace loving people to support the indigenous peoples in Mindanao at these difficult times. We should support them in their calls to demand justice for the victims. We also urged the government to conduct an investigation and prosecute the Mahagat/Bagani forces. Lastly, we call for the immediate pull out of military in indigenous communities, disbanding and dismantling of paramilitary forces in Mindanao. ***

(All photos are from Karapatan-CARAGA)