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Aquino on ‘lumad’ killings: There is no campaign to kill anybody

/ 06:06 PM September 08, 2015
Lumad students form lines for a flag-raising ceremony at the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center, which a tribal leader claims the military wants burned for being run by communist guerrillas. KARLOS MANLUPIG/INQUIRER MINDANAO

In this May 2015 photo, “lumad” students form lines for a flag-raising ceremony at Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center in Davao del Norte. Commenting on the recent spate of violence against the indigenous peoples in Mindanao, President Benigno Aquino III has insisted that the government is not targeting the lumad and has no plans to “kill anybody in this country.” INQUIRER PHOTO

President Benigno Aquino III is adamant in insisting that the government is not targeting the “lumad” or indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

Aquino, during the Meet the Inquirer multimedia forum on Tuesday, said: “There is no campaign to kill anybody in this country. There is a campaign to go after the culprits of these crimes regardless of who they are.”

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The President was asked by netizens, including former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, on what the government was doing to stop the violence against IPs in the south.

Aquino said the government had been working hard to arrest criminals.

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“We have an adequate record to show you the successes of people who have long been wanted and have already been apprehended,” he said.

“Serving the people does not entail killing any of our citizens,” he added.

Earlier media reports said thousands of IPs in Surigao del Sur had been forced to leave their communities because of alleged atrocities committed by the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary force. The Armed Forces of the Philippines was accused of supporting the paramilitary group.

Among those killed was a school director, Emerica Samarca, who was the executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development.

READ: Militia in lumad killings a ‘monster created by military’

Two Manobo lumad residents—Dionel Campos and Aurelio Sinzo—were also allegedly killed by the armed group. Campos was the chair of Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alansa sa Sumusunod (Mapasu), which had been campaigning for ancestral lands and the upholding of human rights.

Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel has said Magahat-Bagani had long been a problem in the province.

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He said the group was formed to support the Army’s counterinsurgency campaign but now it could no longer be controlled.

In another report, a confederation of different tribes in Mindanao called Kalumaran claimed that the killing of lumad had been occurring “all over Mindanao.”

The violence has displaced many, including a group of lumad who have temporarily sought shelter in Davao City.

READ: ‘Lumad’ in gold-rich Mindanao targeted

Kalumaran secretary general Dulphing Ogan said they believed the lumad were being targeted because the IPs had been opposing mining and logging operations in the region. Kristine Angeli Sabillo/RC

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TAGS: Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Aurelio Sinzo, Benigno Aquino III, Davao City, Dionel Campos, Dulphing Ogan, Emerica Samarca, Indigenous Peoples, Johnny Pimentel, Kalumaran, lumad, lumad killings, Magahat-Bagani, Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alansa sa Sumusunod, MAPASU, Meet the Inquirer, Mindanao, PNOY, Surigao del Sur, Teddy Casiño
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