Posts

Massacre victims possibly raped, tortured

Twelve year old Angel Rivas and her 21-year old lesbian sister Lenie may have been raped and tortured by the soldiers who killed them last Tuesday, June 15, an indigenous people’s advocacy group said.

Way too many bullets were also fired on Angel’s face, making her unrecognizable despite stitches that now hold her shattered head together.

An aunt (name withheld for security reasons) also told Save Our Schools Network the Angel’s genitals were defiled.

Gibastos gyud ang iyang lawas, gi-rape, gihilabtan, guba kaayo ang atubangan,” the relative said. (They defiled her body, she was raped, her genitals torn apart.)

In February 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered government soldiers to fire guns at suspected rebels’ vaginas, adding, “If there is no vagina, it (the women) would be useless.”

“Tell the soldiers. ‘There’s a new order coming from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina,’” Duterte said from the presidential palace.

Devastated family

The sisters,along with cousin Willy Rodriguez, were killed in the second massacre in Lianga, Surigao del Sur since September 1, 2015.

The 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army told the victims’ relatives they were pursuing New People’s Army guerrillas when a fire fight ensued that had the three killed as hapless bystanders.

The claim however contradicted statements made from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) general headquarters and by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that the three were NPA fighters who first fired at them that resulted in a 10-minute fire fight.

Both also alleged Angel was a NPA child warrior.

But the victims’ relatives said the young Lumad-Manobo farmers and three other kin simply took a break from harvesting abaca hemp at their farm and went to Lianga town proper to buy rice.

They came across the soldiers who, without warning, opened fire at them. The three were killed while the other three were able to run away.

The victim’s families were only made aware of the incident at around 10 o’clock Tuesday evening after soldiers presented to them the lifeless body of Angel, wrapped in plastic and packaging tape.

Lenie and Willy’s bodies were later found in a separate location.

When the Rivas family were able to uncover Angel’s body at a funeral home Wednesday morning, they were shocked at the gruesome state of body and her once pretty face that was already full of crude stitches.

From pictures sent to journalists by the SOS Network, Angel’s face now looks like a grotesque mask that is mangled and askew beyond recognition. Her right eye lid is also missing, revealing an empty socket were her eye used to be.

Her aunt told SOS that Angel and Lenie’s father was devastated.


Lenie’s body was also full of stitches while Willy’s had fractures in his limbs wrapped with packaging tape, suggesting that he might have been tortured or had bones broken after being shot.

The soldiers also reportedly tried to stop the families from taking photographs of the bodies.

SOS said a certain Colonel Aranas offered to pay all funeral expenses but was rejected by the relatives.

Angel was an honor student of the Tribal Filipino School in Surigao Sur (TRIFPSS) who transferred to the Department of Education Alternative Learning System during the pandemic. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Latest Lianga massacre was 25th under Duterte, Karapatan reports

The deaths of three Lumad-Manobo in Lianga, Surigao del Sur last Tuesday, June 15, is the 25th massacre of civilians in the Rodrigo Duterte government’s counter-insurgency campaign, a human rights group reported.

Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights said the Lianga Massacre on June 15 was the second since 2015 and “a testimony of the [Duterte] regime’s hideous legacy of killings” that continues up to its last year in power.

“We condemn in the strongest terms this latest massacre in Lianga and ask with much rage, ‘How many more will Duterte’s state forces kill and kill?’” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

Karapatan’s Caraga regional chapter said in an urgent alert last Wednesday that troops belonging to the 3rd Special Forces Battalion (SFB) of the Philippine Army fired upon a group of six farmers, killing three while the three others ran for safety.  

Killed were farmers Willy Rodriguez, Lenie Rivas and Angel Rivas in Sitio Panukmoan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

All members of the Lumad-Manobo tribe, they were residents of Sitio Manluy-a, Brgy. Diatagon.

Angel Rivas, 12 years old, was a Grade 6 student of the Lumad school Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) while her sister Lenie and cousin Willy Rodriguez were members of Lumad organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU).

The soldiers brought the lifeless bodies of the three to their brigade headquarters in St. Christine, Lianga and presented the victims as New People’s Army (NPA) members.

Spokespersons of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict were also quick to allege Angel was an NPA “child soldier” killed in a firefight with the government soldiers.

Relatives of the victims however belied the government’s claim and said the victims were simply on their way to Lianga town proper to buy rice after harvesting abaca hemp at their farm.

They even sought permission from a nearby military encampment to visit their abaca farm Tuesday morning, the relatives said.

The military troops of the 3rd SFB led by Captain Aranas and the 48th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army have been encamping in the community of Manluy-a for several months and had established a military detachment in a civilian community called Kilometer 18.

The relatives also bewailed the state of the cadavers when fetched from the funeral parlor, saying Angel’s face is unrecognizable from its numerous bullet wounds.

The cadavers were also haphazardly wrapped in plastic and packaging tape, they added.

“The perpetrators are mad killers, with clearly no respect to life and rights. They look at the Lumad people like hunted prey, lying to their teeth and falsely tagging the victims as members of the New People’s Army (NPA),” Palabay fumed.

June 15’s incident is the second massacre in Barangay Diatagon since Lumad-Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo of MAPASU and Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), were killed by Magahat-Bagani paramilitary men on September 1, 2015.

The paramilitaries were then under the command of the 36th and 75th infantry battalions of the Philippine Army who were also nearby when the first massacre happened.

The earlier massacre set off evacuations from Lumad communities, with 3,000 individuals seeking refuge in Tandag City that lasted months.

No charges were filed against the perpetrators of the first Lianga Massacre, which coincidentally happened on the last year of the previous Benigno Aquino government.

‘Mass killing’

Karapatan said 121 civilians, mostly farmers and indigenous peoples, have been killed in 25 massacres in the five years of the Duterte government:

  1. Sumilao, Bukidnon;
  2. Palayan, Nueva Ecija;
  3. Masbate City, Masbate;
  4. Cawayan, Masbate;
  5. Mobo, Masbate;
  6. Mandaon, Masbate
  7. San Nicolas, Pangasinan;
  8. Silay, Negros Occidental
  9. Gubat, Sorsogon;
  10. Bulan towns, Sorsogon;
  11. Lake Sebu, South Cotabato;
  12. Polomolok, South Cotabato;
  13. Siaton, Negros Oriental;
  14. Bato, Camarines Sur;
  15. Ragay, Camarines Sur;
  16. Matalam, Cotabato;
  17. Antique;
  18. Patikul, Sulu;
  19. Baguio City;
  20. Polomok, South Cotabato;
  21. Kabacan, North Cotabato;
  22. Baras, Rizal;
  23. Capiz;
  24. Sta. Rosa, Laguna; and
  25. Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

“These killings should be met with all the strongest condemnation possible from different sectors. Justice for Angel Rivas, Willy Rodriguez, and Lenie Rivas!” Palabay said.

Meanwhile, indigenous peoples’ rights advocates held an indignation rally in front of the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City on Thursday evening, June 17, to condemn the latest massacre.# (Raymund B. Villanueva)

LIANGA MASSACRE 2: Karapatan reports military killed 3 Lumad-Manobo

The military massacred three Lumad-Manobo in Lianga, Surigao del Sur on Tuesday, June 15, regional human rights group Karapatan-Caraga said.

In an alert, the group said Philippine Army 3rd Special Forces Battalion troopers indiscriminately fired at a group of farmers, killing Willy Rodriquez, Lenie Rivas and Angel Rivas in Sitio Panukmoan, Barangay Diatagon.

Angel was 12 years old and a Grade 6 student of the Lumad school Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur while Willy and Lenie were members of the Lumad organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU).

Karapatan Caraga said the victims and other farmers were harvesting abaca hemp at their farm when killed by government soldiers at about one o’clock in the afternoon.

Relatives told Karapatan Caraga that the group earlier asked permission from the military before going to the farm.

The soldiers reportedly brought the bodies of the three victims to their brigade headquarters at St. Christine, Lianga.

They troopers later claimed the victims were members of the New People’s Army.

Karapatan Caraga said the 3rd SFB, led by a certain Captain Aranas, as well as the 48th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army have encamped in the community of Manluy-a for several months.

They also established a military detachment in a civilian community called Kilometer 18 in the said town.

Tuesday’s incident was the second massacre to have happened in Barangay Diatagon.

In September 1, 2015, Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo of MAPASU, and Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) were killed by Magahat-Bagani men.

The Magahat-Bagani were then under the command of 36th and 75th infantry battalions of the Philippine Army who were also nearby when the first massacre happened.

The killings set off evacuations from Lumad communities, with 3,000 individuals seeking refuge in Tandag City that lasted months.

No charges were filed against the perpetrators of the first Lianga Massacre. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Ibigay ang hustisya sa mga biktima ng dahas at iligal na pag-aresto’

“Hiling namin sa Kongreso na ibigay ang hustisya sa mga bata, datu at guro na biktima ng dahas at iligal na pag-aresto. Panagutin ang PRO 7, militar, DSWD 7 at iba pang ahensya sa patuloy na pagdetine sa 18 mga mag-aaral na lumad at buwagin ang NTF-ELCAC.”Rius Valle, Tagapagsalita, Save Our Schools Network

Lumad 26 now need real rescue from police, priest implores

The Lumad raided and arrested by the police at a Roman Catholic retreat house inside a university campus last Monday now needs real rescue, a Cebu church leader said.

Fr. Nazario Vocales, Archdiocese of Cebu vicar and executive director of its Commission on Social Advocacy (COSA) called on the government to release the 24 Lumad and two teachers now under the custody of the police.

Vocales said COSA condemns the so called “rescue operation” by the Philippine National Police Regional Office 7 last February 15, adding what transpired was an illegal mass arrest and trespassing.

The priest said the incident was exacerbated by the police’s “terrifying use of force against the Lumad who reside in the premises of the University of San Carlos-Talamban as a venue for their Lumad Bakwit School.”

Vocales recalled that the victims were in a sanctuary provided by the church and with the blessing of Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.

“It was a fitting way to welcome last year’s “2020 Year of Ecumenism, Inter-Religious Dialogue, and Indigenous Peoples,” Vocales said.

Vocales urged Cebuanos to once again express support to the Lumad victims as he urged the police and government workers to resist orders that undermine human rights and dignity.

“They need our help and support once more as the safe space for learning and a sanctuary for the stranded was shattered (Monday) by terrifying and illegal acts,” Vocales said.

Police canard

Twenty-two students, two Lumad elders and two teachers were hauled off in what the police claimed was a rescue operation from a military training school inside the Talamban campus of the University of San Carlos.

No less than PNP chief Debold Sinas claimed that “some of the children told (police) investigators that they underwent some form of warfare training while in the custody of their handlers.”

Sinas and the PNP however were immediately rebuffed by a Cebu City social worker who interviewed the Lumad children.

“We won’t comment on that. The children never said that to us. Nothing about training to be child warriors,” Cebu City welfare officer Annie Suico told Philstar.com

“We interviewed all of the children. They said nothing about being indoctrinated. All their guardians taught them were reading and writing,” Suico added.

Denial of legal service

Meanwhile, Atty. King Perez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers in Cebu said he finally was allowed to briefly talk with some of the Lumad in a police jail Tuesday afternoon.

Perez however complained that the police is making is making it difficult for lawyers to consult with the Lumad, saying they were made to wait for hours Monday afternoon, to no avail.

The police are being overly-strict on health protocols, Perez said, which is a “huge irony, given that they took the children and the elderly from the safety of a retreat house just to detain them in a crowded jail.”

Perez said they will try to secure the release of the Lumad today, Wednesday, if no inquest proceedings were held last night.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it is investigating reports of human rights violations in the incident.

“The (CHR) has already dispatched an investigation team yesterday…to look into the situation involving the alleged rescue of (the) Lumad children,” CHR spokesperson Atty Jacqueline de Guia said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘State terrorism ito laban sa mga batang Pilipino’

“Sinasabi po nila (pulis) na itong mga bata (estudyanteng Lumad) ay ni rescue. State terrorism po ito laban sa mga batang Pilipino… Dahil sa track record ng Pamahalaang Duterte, kailanman hindi ito naging kakampi ng kabataang Pilipino. [Kaya naman] hindi po tayo makapapayag na magpatuloy ang ganitong pang-aabuso laban sa karapatan ng mga bata.” Kim Viznar, Children’s Rehabilitation Center

Priests deny police story: ‘USC Lumad needed no rescuing’

Priests hosting Lumad students and elders denied the police operation inside a Catholic-run university in Cebu City Monday morning was a rescue mission.

Societas Verbi Divini (SVD) Philippines Southern Province Provincial Fr. Rogelio Bag-ao, SVD and University of San Carlos (USC) President Fr. Narciso Cellan Jr, SVD said they are seriously concerned and surprised that the police alleged the incident was a rescue operation.

“[It] came as a surprise that reports about minors being ‘rescued’ surfaced today. While COSA (Cebu-Commission on Social Advocacies) mentioned that some parents were coming over to fetch their children, it did not dawn on us that the parents’ visit will necessitate the presence of policemen,” the priests in a joint statement said.

Bag-ao and Cellan denied the 24 Lumad as well as two volunteer teachers forcibly hauled from a retreat house inside USC’s Talamban campus to a police camp needed rescuing.

“Here, no rescue need ever be conducted because the presence of the lumads in the retreat house was for their welfare and well-being, and all throughout, they were nurtured, cared for, and treated with their best interest in mind,” they said.

Both explained that their hosting of the Lumad was in support of the bakwit (refugee) school program of the Save Our School’s (SOS) Network, along with Archdiocese of Cebu’s COSA.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the closure and destruction of indigenous peoples’ schools since 2017, forcing hundreds of their students as well as their teachers to seek refuge in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao cities.

The priests pointed out that the four other schools within the archdiocese have hosted as many as 42 Lumad students, five teachers and three community elders (Datu) in the past two years.

The refugees were welcomed at USC-Talamban on May 11, 2020 where they were supposed to complete their modular schooling on April 3, 2020 after which, they would have returned to their respective indigenous communities.

The Lumad were forced to extend their stay since the Cebu City government imposed travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the priests said.

“After being locked down, the SVD Community has since sheltered the delegation at its retreat house, providing them with comfortable accommodation, and allowing them the use of its facilities for the lumad’s recreation,” Bag-ao and Cellan narrated.

The priests said that four of the delegates have since returned home after quarantine restrictions have loosened while more are scheduled to leave this week.

In videos and photos posted on social media platforms, the Lumad students were shown to have been roughly treated by the police during its operation Monday.

WATCH SOS’ LIVE VIDEO OF THE INCIDENT HERE.

Some were strangled from behind while some were handcuffed as they were hauled to the regional police camp.

‘NPA training inside a Catholic university’

In its News Brief No. 21-0261, the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Central Visayas bragged it rescued the minors from a “child warrior training” inside the university.

“Twenty-one Lumad children were reunited with their parents two years after they were ‘recruited’ by community organizers in Davao del Norte and brought to Cebu City to undergo revolutionary training as future armed combatants,” the police said.

PNP chief Debold Sinas further alleged that the Lumad children belonged to a New People’s Army front based in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

“Police Regional Office 7 investigators are eyeing serious illegal detention, human trafficking, and violations of RA 9851 (IHL Act) and RA 11188 (Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict) charges against the arrested suspects,” the PNP added.

The police has yet to allow human rights lawyers to meet with the detainees, a full day after the arrests.

Lumad school children call for the release of those arrested in Cebu at a rally in Quezon City. (Photo by Jo Maline Mamangun/Kodao)

Demands for immediate release

The SOS in Cebu meanwhile called for the immediate release of the detained Lumad and their teachers, denying the students were coerced.

“The parents of the students provided authorization to the volunteer teachers to allow their children to join the Bakwit School. It is also the decision of the students themselves to take part in the Bakwit School,” SOS-Cebu said in a statement.

The group recalled the refugee schools hosted by schools and churches across the country were in response to the closure of 176 indigenous peoples’ school across Mindanao upon Duterte’s orders.

“It is then ironic for the police to claim to ‘rescue’ the Lumad when it is a truth that is widely known that it is the state forces that continuously harass and red-tag them. It is state forces themselves that continue to harm the Lumad,” SOS-Cebu said.

In Quezon City, the SOS Bakwit School at the University of the Philippines in Diliman led an indignation rally in front of the Commission on Human Rights along with indigenous peoples’ rights advocates Monday afternoon. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Paramilitary leaders’ death brings ‘deep sense of justice,’ Reds say

Hawudon Jomar Bucales’ death last Sunday brought “a deep sense of justice” to the people of the community, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said in announcing it was the New People’s Army (NPA) that ambushed and killed the leader of the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani.

The CPP hailed the death of Bucales, calling him a mastermind of the brutal murders of tribal leaders and a school director in September 1, 2015 that later became known as the Lianga Massacre.

“The NPA unit in Surigao del Sur deserves the highest commendation. The Party and the Filipino people congratulate them for their success,” the group said.

“The broad masses of Lianga celebrate the successful NPA ambush. They feel a deep sense of justice with the death of Bucales,” it added.

A spot report by the Lianga police said the October 4 incident in Sitio Mamsapranon, Barangay Banahao also killed one Alberto Belonio Dela Peña and wounded paramilitary troopers Ronald Acevedo and Artemio Muldes as well as their companion Oliver Rosaldo.

A statement by the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army said Muldes also died.

Bucales and party were on their way home on board two motorcycles from an Indigenous Peoples’ Mandatory Representative (IPMR) meeting in Barangay San Isidro when waylaid by the NPA’s Guerilla Front 19, the police report said.

A 25-minute gun battle ensued that ended when the guerrillas withdrew, it added.

Massacre mastermind

The CPP said Bucales played a key role in the murder of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) executive director Emerito Samarca and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo in 2015.

 In a House of Representatives hearing on November 11, 2015, Bucales seemingly justified the massacre by accusing the award-winning school for Lumad children of brainwashing its graduates to later join the NPA.

“Siya ang naglalason sa mga tao…Iyan ang rason, kasi iyong mga graduate ng ALCADEV, pumupunta sa kilusan,” Bucales said.

 (He [Samarca] poisoned the minds of the people…That was the reason, because ALCADEV graduates later joint the [communist] movement.)

The murders prompted then Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel, now the province’s Second District Representative, to demand the Magahat-Bagani’s disbandment, calling it a “monster created by the military.”

Senator Koko Pimentel and former Senator Teofisto Guingona III also called for the arrest of Bucales and other leaders of the paramilitary during a Senate inquiry on the massacre.

They were ignored by government security forces , however, allowing Bucales to roam free in Andap Valley, a mining hotspot of the country.

The CPP said a “people’s court” had previously been formed to try Bucales and others for the Lianga Massacre where the Magahat-Bagani leader’s key role in the murders were pointed out.

The group said Bucales ignored their summons and refused to stand trial.

Continuing threats against Lumad schools

The CPP also said Bucales’ Magahat-Bagani received guns, funding and publicity support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and mining companies operating in the area.

“He and his paramilitary group were being misrepresented as ‘NPA surrenderees’ by the 3rd Infantry Battalion in order to funnel funds for counterinsurgency into their pockets. Endorsed by the military, he was appointed by Lianga town officials as its Mandatory Indigenous Peoples Representative, the CPP said.

The CPP said Bucales has recently been issuing renewed threats against the leaders of the ALCADEV community school in behalf of the military.

“In recent months, the people of Lianga have been subjected to intense militarization, aerial bombings and gross human rights abuses, in order to break the people’s resistance to the further aggression of mining operations in their areas,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Paramilitary destroys Lumad school; leader invokes Duterte in attack

A paramilitary group destroyed an indigenous people’s school in Bukidnon Province last Wednesday, August 26, the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network reported.

The Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI) Academy in Sitio Laburon, Brgy. Matupe, San Fernando was attacked and destroyed by around 50 members of paramilitary group ‘Bagani’, the network said in an alert Saturday.

The group said two teachers tending to the school farm were alerted by students at around 7:15 in the morning that armed men have trespassed the school campus.

The school—repeatedly accused by government forces as a New People’s Army training facility—is 15-minutes away from the farm.

The teachers saw the paramilitary group destroying the school buildings and tearing up textbooks.  

The destroyed teachers’ quarters. (SOS photo)

“The teachers were about to take photos of the incident but were threatened by the ‘Bagani’ leader Lito Gambay, who told them to leave as President (Rodrigo) Duterte will know about this,” the SOS said.

Students and community members cried out of frustration as their school was being destroyed before their eyes, the SOS added.

The two school buildings and teachers’ cottage was built in 2007 from donations by the European Union Aid for uprooted people.

The main school building after the attack. (SOS photo)

The SOS said the ‘Bagani’ paramilitary is under the command of the 89th Infantry Battalion Bravo Company of the Philippine Army which has set up camp in Brgy. Kalagangan, San Fernando, 30-minutes away from the school.

“The Save Our Schools condemns in strongest terms the unabated destruction and closure of Lumad schools in Mindanao. As of August 2020, around 178 lumad schools are now forcibly closed,” the group said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Another view of the destroyed school building after the attack. (SOS photo)

‘Itigil ang pangha-harass at interogasyon’

“Mariin kong kinokondena ang patuloy na military operations sa komunidad namin sa Lianga, Surigao del Sur ngayong panahon ng pandemya. Itigil ang pangha-harass at interogasyon sa mga tao sa komunidad ng Han-ayan at Km. 16. Matindi ang nilalabag ng pulisya at militar sa iligal na pagpasok nila sa komunidad.

Sa simula pa lang pagdating ng mga militar sa komunidad noong Agosto 2019, ginulo na ang maayos at mapayapang pamumuhay ng mga kapatid kong lumad. Nilabag din nila ang mga polisiya sa ilalim ng GCQ–walang naka-face mask at walang social distancing.”

Rep. Eufemia Cullamat
Bayan Muna Party
Manobo

Jo Maline Mamangun