Senate to probe ‘lumad’ killings
The Senate will investigate the recent killing of three lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur allegedly by a paramilitary group, after Sen. Teofisto Guingona III called for the return of the rule of law to the province.
Guingona condemned the Sept. 1 murder of the three lumad whose grisly killing he showed through pictures during his privilege speech at the Senate on Monday.
“I think it is time that the Senate, as an institution, put its foot down and did our little bit in restoring the rule of law. Let us conduct an investigation. And the request of the governor is, let us conduct an investigation not here in Metro Manila, but there in Surigao del Sur so that he could bring witnesses, the numerous witnesses, the numerous victims, the wives of those who had died, to testify, to tell what happened,” Guingona said.
The senator said soldiers from the 36th Infantry Battalion, 75th Infantry Battalion and the AFP Special Forces, together with the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani Forces, conducted community relations operations on Aug. 30 in remote Sitio (settlement) Han-ayan, a place inhabited by the lumad.
But the military left on Aug. 30 and reportedly camped out two kilometers from the sitio. At 4 a.m. the next day, a group from the Magahat-Bagani Force stormed the village and called everyone to the basketball court.
While the people were being herded to the basketball court, the group stormed the school called the Alternative Learning School for Agricultural Livelihood and Development to look for its executive director, Emerito Samarca, whom they accused of being a member of the New People’s Army.
The group allegedly stabbed Samarca dead and his body was found the next morning.
At the basketball court, community leader Dionel Campos was told to sit in front of the community and “in the presence of children, mothers and fathers, he was told to kneel and was shot in the back of the head.”
Also shot in front of the community was Jovelo Bello Sinzo, who was from the sitio but was there to attend the wake of a relative.—Christine O. Avendaño
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