Caraga police seek public’s help in finding militiamen tagged in lumad slays
TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte, Philippines – Authorities in the Caraga region asked the public anew on Thursday to help them find the suspects in the murders of three school and community leaders in Surigao del Sur in late 2015.
This as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), in a recent circular, announced the putting up of a P3.6-million bounty for the arrest of the alleged leaders of the Magahat-Bagani Force militia, which was blamed for the killings of Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo in Lianga, Surigao del Sur last Sept. 1.
The DILG Memorandum Circular 2015-136 states that a P1.2-million cash reward has been offered for the capture of each of the suspects Bobby and Loloy Tejero and Margarito Layno for the crimes of multiple murder, arson and grave coercion.
Supt. Daniel Peusca, acting Caraga police regional spokesperson, said operations have been continuing to locate and arrest the region’s three most wanted men.
Samarca was the director of Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), a community school that has been serving children of the Manobo tribes people in Sitio Han-ayan, Diatagon village. Campos was the chairperson of Malahutayong Pakigbisug alang sa mga Sumusunod (Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation) or Mapasu, an IP organization reportedly opposed to the entry of logging and mining companies in Lianga, but which the military has branded as a communist front. Sinzo was a Manobo chieftain.
“We’re appealing to the communities who might have information about the suspects’ whereabouts to report their location to us,” Peusca told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by mobile phone. “With the reward, this could encourage people to cooperate with the authorities.”
Following the widespread outrage and condemnation of the killings, a joint police-military group called Task Force Bangkaw (Spear) was created to hunt down the suspects and their armed followers.
Almost 3,000 Manobo men, women and children from Lianga and nearby municipalities of San Agustin, Tagbina, San Miguel and other areas in Surigao del Sur have since fled to the provincial capital of Tandag out of fear.
The suspects are still at large despite the continuing manhunt by policemen and soldiers.
“So far what we’ve got are intelligence reports about their locations, sightings. But our efforts to arrest them have yet to yield positive results,” Maj. General Rey Reynaldo Guerrero, chief of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) said.
One of Eastmincom’s Army branches, the 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City, is the PNP’s partner under TF Bangkaw.
Guerrero said intelligence reports they received about Magahat’s movements were usually late, so their responses were always “after the fact.”
“The point here is we received the reports,” said Guerrero. He said he has spoken to Maj. General Oscar Lactao, 4th ID commander, who
vowed “they would be leveling up their efforts” in tracking down and apprehending the suspects.
More than three months after the killings, at least 468 families or 2,753 persons from Manobo communities are still living in an evacuation center in Tandag, Surigao del Sur, according to May Navidad Salinas, Surigao del Sur provincial social welfare office chief. SFM
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