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Lumad members disappointed over canceled meeting with de Lima

/ 05:41 PM September 17, 2015
Human rights group Karapatan and some members of the Lumad community calls for DOJ assistance on alleged military harassment.

Human rights group Karapatan and some members of the Lumad community call for DOJ assistance on alleged military harassment.

HUMAN rights group Karapatan together with several members of the Lumad tribe expressed disappointment over the canceled meeting with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima whom they intend to seek help on the alleged indiscriminate harassment and killings of indigenous peoples (IP).

Present to meet the Justice Chief were witnesses to the killing of Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo to share information about the Sept. 1 incident.

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Karapatan was also supposed to present the case of the Pangantucan massacre where five Lumads were killed including a 70-year old blind man and two minors whom members of the 4th Infantry Division tagged as Communist members.

The meeting was canceled due to a scheduled press conference in Malacañang on the Mamasapano investigation which was conducted by the National Prosecution Service-National Bureau of Investigation (NPS-NBI). Both agencies are under the DOJ.

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“Yung opisina niya, gustong makausap na lang ang undersecretary, pero tingin po namin, itong isyu na ito ay diretsong naka-address kay Secretary de Lima. Kaya ho, nakakadismaya man, lalo na ho sa mga kamag-anak ng mga biktima na nanggaling pa sa Mindanao para siya ay makausap,” Cristina Palabay, Secretary-General of Karapatan, told reporters.

“Nanawagan pa rin ho kami sa kanya [De Lima] na harapin sa dialogue ang mga kamag-anak, ang witnesses sa kasong ito, para ho makapagbigay siya ng kanyang pahayag sa paano niya isasagawa ang sinasabi niyang imbestigasyon sa kaso ng mga namasaker sa Lianga, at kung paano yung naiisip niyang paraan na kamtin ang hustisya,” she added.

When asked whether de Lima had given her commitment to meet them in another date, Palabay lamented that the DOJ wants them to meet an undersecretary instead.

De Lima earlier mentioned of a possible inter-agency investigation on the harassments and human rights violations committed against the Lumads.

“Because of her mandate as the Justice Secretary, she [ de Lima] is in the best position to answer questions from the victims, the relatives, tungkol sa kaso na-file nila,” Palabay stressed.

“Ang hirap naman ho nito na nanggagaling lang yung effort sa mga biktima, sa mga witnesses, at kumbaga sa mga NGO yung mga paraan para maka-seek ng hustisya dito sa ating bayan,” she said.

Last September 1, paramilitary elements killed three persons who were protesting the mining operations, land conversions, and plantations in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

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Killed were Emerito Samarca, 54, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (Alcadev); Dionel Campos, chair of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU); and Campos’ cousin, Bello Sinzo.

In a press statement, Karapatan-Caraga narrated that at around 4 a.m. on September 1, “known elements” of the Magahat-Bagani “opened fire at Dionel Campos and Aurelio Sinzo as community members in Km. 16, Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur were roused from their sleep.

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TAGS: Department of Justice (DoJ), Human rights violation, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Karapatan, lumad, Massacre
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