Aquino on ‘lumad’ killings: There is no campaign to kill anybody
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.