3 dead in paramilitary rampage in Surigao del Sur town
DAVAO CITY—A paramilitary group went on a rampage in the town of Lianga in Surigao del Sur and killed a school director and two other residents Tuesday morning.
Dr. Naty Castro, spokesperson of Karapatan-Caraga, said that Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) school director Emerico Samarta was found dead inside one of the classrooms in Barangay Diatagon.
“His neck, arms and legs were tied with a rope. Based on the initial reports, he was stabbed to death,” Castro said.
The Alcadev school caters Lumad students.
Castro said the victim was last seen Monday after all the teachers were ordered to evacuate to the poblacion area after a group of militias known as “Magahat” rounded up the members of the community and told them they should leave or else they will be killed.
Samarta was said to have decided to remain in the community to secure the school and to help in the exodus of the tribal villagers to seek for safer grounds.
The paramilitaries also torched the building of the community’s cooperative near the school compound on Monday afternoon, Castro said.
Late Monday afternoon, residents decided to leave the community.
“They knew something was about to happen. Days before the incident, the Magahat came along with the 36th Infantry Battalion and a unit of special forces. The soldiers pulled out and went to (sub-community) Sitio Kilometer 9,” Castro said.
On Tuesday, two residents identified as cousins Dionel Campus and Aurelio Sinzo were killed by the Magahat in Kilometer 16 at around 4 a.m.
“The Mahagat, who were occupying the community, called on the victims to come out of their houses. When they came out, they were peppered with bullets while the rest of the community watched,” Castro said.
Campus, chair of the Lumad group Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alansa sa Sumusunod (Mapasu), was very vocal in his advocacy for the protection of ancestral lands and for the call to end human rights abuses.
Castro said the residents are now in Kilometer 16 fearing that they will be killed by the Magahat.
“The military was only seven kilometers away but they did nothing,” Castro said.
Karapatan said the Magahat started recruiting members during the implementation of the military’s Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan.
“They started to forcibly recruit members in 2012 but the villagers resisted. The Magahat became more active in 2014. They killed a Mapasu member and torched a school in October. They were also involved in harassments and banditry,” Castro said.
The Magahat is composed of about 20 ragtag members but are armed with automatic firearms.
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