“Even with the capture of notorious Gen. Jovito Palparan recently, his butcher mentality and his bloody human rights record have been well-entrenched in the AFP’s bureaucracy and is carried on by no less than his protégé, Gen. Ricardo Visaya. The continuing Palparan-like killings and tactics is proof of that.” – Jomorito Goaynon, chair of Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization
By DEE AYROSO
Three indigenous peoples were killed in separate incidents from August 9 to 14 in Agusan del Sur and Bukidnon, based on reports from church and non-government organizations.
Among the suspects were a paramilitary group under the Phil. Army’s 4th Infantry Division, and an official of a palm oil company.
Agusan del Sur
On August 9, Armando Campos, a 42-year-old Manobo, was shot dead at 5:30 am in Ebro village, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur.
The killing was condemned in an August 15 joint statement by Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro Antonio Ledesma, Fr. Edwin Gariguez, the executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippine-NASSA, and Bishop Efraim Tendero, the national director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches of the Philippines. The statement was posted in the website Cross Currents.
The statement said Anecito Ortiz, the manager of the Filipinas Palm Oil Plantation Inc. (FFPI), was one of the suspects. Since July, the FPPI had reportedly been harassing farmers in the area, after the latter served a notice of termination of the lease contract with the corporation.
Campos was among the farmers who wanted to reclaim the 4,000-hectare palm oil plantation being leased to FPPI. In 1990, members of the NDC Guthrie Estates Inc. Multipurpose Cooperative (NGEI-MPC) who were beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law signed a lease contract with FPPI. Under the contract, which is effective until 2032, FPPI rented the land at P635 per hectare. Some 60 percent of the beneficiaries are indigenous peoples.
The church leaders’ statement called for an investigation in the killing. They also called on their diocese, parishes and civil society organizations “to lend solidarity to our farmers who are struggling for land and justice.”
Still in Agusan del Sur, on August 10, Datu Roger Alaki was shot dead by a certain Berting Aldo, identified as a member of the Bagani Force. The Bagani Force, along with soldiers of the 26th Infantry Battalion had been harassing residents of sitio Mintakei, Lydia village, La Paz town, said the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization.
Jomoroto Goaynon, Kalumbay chair, said in a statement posted in the website of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao sub-region, that after Alaki was killed, some 30 Talaandig and Manobo families fled from their homes. Some evacuated to Libon village, while others were still hiding in the forest. Alaki’s body had not been retrieved, said Goaynon.
Goaynon said five members of the Bagani Force were seen on August 8 threatening sitio residents who had refused to sign the Memorandum of Agreement with the Malampay mining company. They also threatened the teachers of the RMP’s literacy numeracy school in the area, branding them as rebel supporters.
Earlier, on August 1, leaders of the Bagani Force identified as Benhur Mansulunay and Balbino Andaya sent a letter to community leaders of the local tribal group Pigdiwatahan, and threatened to launch a “pangayaw,” or armed campaign against them if they do not sign the MOA. The paramilitary threatened that the pangayaw will also cover the nearby sitios of Libon and Liwangwangan whose residents had rejected the MOA, Goaynon said.
In Impasug-ong, Bukidnon, on August 14, Marcel Labon was at a store waiting to have his crops milled when he was shot dead by bonnet-masked men. Labon, a resident of Sitio Olayanon, Calabugao village, was a member of Pigyayungaan, a local organization of Kalumbay.
“We would like to ask the military officers, how many more lumads will Oplan Bayanihan kill before it is terminated?” asked Goaynon.
“Even with the capture of notorious Gen. Jovito Palparan recently, his butcher mentality and his bloody human rights record have been well-entrenched in the AFP’s bureaucracy and is carried on by no less than his protégé, Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya. The continuing Palparan-like killings and tactics is proof of that.” Goaynon said.
Visaya is the commander of the 4thInfantry Division.
Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), said: “Aquino and the AFP has plenty of cruel, vicious dogs in their kennels committing grave human rights abuses against the Filipino people.”
“The government does not seem satisfied with the killing machine that is the AFP—its creation of paramilitary groups exacerbates and promotes the impunity that reigns in our country,” Malayao said.
“The Bagani Force and other paramilitary groups in the country especially in Mindanao, do the military’s ‘dirty work’ for them, such as to assassinate civilians opposing militarization or business interests in the hinterlands,” she said.