House probe sought on killing of 9 Tumandok leaders
MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc is seeking an investigation into the killing of nine leaders of an indigenous people’s (IP) community during an operation conducted by police and the military two days before the new year.
Under House Resolution No. 1449, the Makabayan bloc said the “brazen killing of the poor and marginalized indigenous peoples is an indicator of the state of human rights in the country as well as the raging impunity that seems to reign over our land.”
The Makabayan bloc includes Bayan Muna Reps. Eufemia Cullamat, Carlos Zarate, and Ferdinand Gaite; Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas; ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro; and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago.
“It is imperative for members of Congress, as representatives of our people, to defend the rights of our people and check on excesses and violations committed against them,” the lawmakers said in the resolution.
“Laws and rules should serve the interest of our people, and should not be weaponized to suppress their rights and oppress them,” they added.
Citing reports, the lawmakers said that aside from the nine slain leaders, at least 18 other Tumandok were also arrested during the operations on December 30, 2020.
Reports show that the operation was led by the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Battalion.
While relatives and witnesses claim the victims did not resist arrest and that the pieces of evidence like firearms were planted, police insist that it was a regular operation against loose firearms and that the victims — supposedly members of the New People’s Army — opened fire at the law enforcers.
“The nine Tumandok people killed were well-known indigenous leaders in their respective barangays. They were consistent in opposing militarization and rights violations in their communities,” the lawmakers said.
“They were also active in the resistance against land grabbing and the construction of the Jalaur Mega Dam in Calinog, Iloilo threatening to inundate ancestral lands and displace thousands of indigenous peoples and peasants. For these reasons, they were red-tagged by the military, prior to the series of arrests and killings,” they added.
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