Magahat-Bagani accused of killing Surigao Sur farmer
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani is being accused of killing a farmer in the town of San Miguel in Surigao del Sur.
Roger Montero, provincial chair of the farmers’ group Kapunungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Surigao del Sur (KAMASS), said members of the Magahat-Bagani killed Orlando Rabuca on Nov. 12 in his home in Sitio Hagimitan in the village of Bolhoon.
Rabuca, 53, was vice chair of KAMASS in Bolhoon.
Montero said the paramilitary men arrived in the village at 4 a.m. and went to Rabuca’s home.
“They tried to tie Rabuca’s hands, but he ran away. He was shot outside his house,” Montero said.
Montero said witnesses claimed they saw Bugoy Acebedo and Berting Rivas shot Rabuca.
“There were at least 30 armed men, one of them was Garito Layno,” Montero said.
Layno was one of the Magahat-Bagani leaders who were tagged in the killings in Sitio Han-ayan in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur on Sept. 1.
Layno was suspected of killing Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development (Alcadev) in Lianga. Layano was seen holding a bloodied knife minutes before Samarca’s body, hogtied with gunshot and stab wounds, and its throat slit, was found inside a room at the Alcadev compound.
Aside from Samarca, the paramilitary men also killed tribal leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo.
The local court has issued warrants of arrest against Layno and brothers Loloy and Bobby Tejero, who were identified as those who led the Sept. 1 killings in Lianga.
Almost 3,000 residents have evacuated after the killings and have since been staying at the sports complex in Tandag City.
In the Nov. 12 killing in San Miguel town, Montero said the suspects left a letter warning that more KAMASS members will be killed.
Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel has repeatedly called on the police and military to arrest the suspects in the Sept. 1killings, and the disarming and disbandment of the Magahat-Bagani.
“The evacuees will not return to their homes as long as these paramilitary groups are there in their villages,” Pimentel said.
Immediately after the Sept. 1 incident, Pimentel said the Magahat-Bagani was created, trained, funded and armed by the military. This was denied by the military.
More than two months after the killings, not one of the suspects has been arrested.
“With what happened, the evacuees will surely not return to their homes,” Pimentel told the Inquirer by phone.
In the latest killing, Sitio Hamiguitan is just a kilometer away from the nearest military detachment.
Montero said Rabuca, the latest victim, was farming a three-hectare land planted with coconut and rice.
“Rabuca was an active KAMASS officer. He recently succeeded in convincing landowners to raise the payment for farmworkers from P150 to P200 daily,” Montero said.
Montero said Rabuca’s family members wer so scared that they refused to talk.
“We have an informer in the area, but he asked not to be named because he fears the Magahat-Bagani would also kill him,” Montero said. SFM
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.