Du30 orders Army: Rein in militias | Inquirer News

Du30 orders Army: Rein in militias

04:21 AM September 24, 2016

MANOBO children, removed from their communities in Lianga, Surigao del Sur province, find a temporary home at the province’s sports center. CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN/INQUIRER MINDANAO

MANOBO children, removed from their communities in Lianga, Surigao del Sur province, find a temporary home at the province’s sports center. CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN/INQUIRER MINDANAO

DAVAO CITY—President Duterte has ordered the military to rein in “lumad” militias being used in counterinsurgency operations, saying while a truce is in effect between the government and communist rebels, he has been receiving reports that paramilitary groups continued to operate.

During his visit to the police regional command in Cagayan de Oro City on Thursday, Mr. Duterte ordered the Armed Forces to “take full control” of the Bagani, an anticommunist paramilitary group composed of so-called lumad warriors but which is being linked to abuses in lumad areas in Mindanao.


He said the military should also stop the operations of “another group” of militiamen, which the President said he could not name because there are “so many” paramilitary groups that he already forgot what they are called.


“Let’s stop the fighting because we are really trying our best to come up with a peaceful country,” said Mr. Duterte in Cagayan De Oro.

“The communists have agreed to talk so we are talking,” he said, referring to the revival of the peace process between the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), an umbrella organization of underground leftist groups that include the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, New People’s Army.

“This fighting in the mountain has been going on ever since,” Mr. Duterte said on Thursday. “But you know, I have noticed from many reports that the government-backed paramilitary units are still operating,” the President said.

He said the continued operations of militias, “especially with firearms issued by the government, would undermine the peace process.”

Goodwill gesture

Luis Jalandoni, chair of the NDFP peace panel, lauded the President’s order. But Jalandoni, a former priest, said the militias should also be disarmed “because they are prejudicing and sabotaging the peace talks.”


The Bagani has been linked to the killing of political activists, among them Italian priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio.

Hundreds of lumad from Compostela Valley and Bukidnon provinces have been staying in Davao City for more than a year now after they have been harassed by Bagani and another lumad militia, Alamara, in their communities.

Manobo evacuees from Lianga, Surigao del Sur, had been set to return to their homes following assurances given by the government that it is now safe for the lumad to go back.

But early this month, only a few Manobo evacuees made it back to their homes after many of them canceled their planned homecoming amid reports that Army soldiers are still in their community.

The Manobo people fled following a series of raids on their communities by military-backed anticommunist lumad militiamen that led to the killings of three Manobo leaders.

Leaders of Malahutayong Pakigbisog sa mga Sumusunod (Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation) or Mapasu, an indigenous peoples organization, decided early this month not to allow the return of most of Manobo residents of Lianga, especially women and children, until after soldiers from the 75th Infantry Battalion had completed their pullout and removed detachments in the area.


More than 2,000 lumad residents of Diatagon village in Lianga had sought refuge in the Surigao del Sur Sports Center in Tandag City.

Jose Campos, a leader of Mapasu, confronted a military officer, Col. Isidro Purisima, who heads the Army’s 402nd Brigade, over the continued presence of soldiers in the Manobo community.

“I’m sorry, sir, but we really lost trust in you,” Campos had told Purisima in a dialogue that was supposed to precede the return of the Manobo people to their community in Lianga.

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Campos is elder brother of Dionel Campos, one of three Manobo leaders killed on Sept. 1 last year during a militia raid that sparked the evacuation of Manobo people from Lianga. Germelina Lacorte with Chris Panganiban, Inquirer Mindanao

TAGS: lumad, Militias, News, Regions

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