“We are demanding an investigation without the presence of the military because any investigation of the DOJ with their presence is useless.”
By BETTINA CATLI
Lumads together with progressive organizations, picketed in front of the Department of Justice, today September 17, demanding an independent DOJ investigation on the Sept. 1 killings in Surigao del Sur.
“We are demanding an investigation without the presence of the military because any investigation of the DOJ with their presence is useless,” said Michelle Campos, daughter of slain Manobo leader, Dionel Campos.
An inter-agency investigation involving several departments of the government has been tasked to look into the killings, following public outrage with the deaths of a tribal school head and two Manobo leaders on Sept. 1.
The inter-agency task force includes the Department of National Defense, Department of Interior and Local Government, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Presidential Human Rights Committee, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“Sadly, these departments are either human rights violators or part of BS Aquino’s psywar machinery,” said Cristina Palabay secretary general of Karapatan. “We would rather that international bodies conduct the investigation because if it’s done here, then we would get nothing.”
“Presidents have changed, regimes had come and gone, many years has passed, but still nothing has been done about this,” said Campos.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima excused herself from a dialogue scheduled today with the Lumad victims, and indigenous and human rights groups, informing them that she has been called to Malacañang.
De Lima delegated the dialogue to DOJ Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, who heads the task-force on extrajudicial killings, but the groups expressed preference to meet with De Lima, who herself visited the evacuation centers in Lianga back in 2009, as chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights.
No tribal war
The Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas (Katribu) said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has come out with “contradictory statements:” first, denying their involvement in the Han-ayan killings in spite of their presence, then declaring that they will investigate the incident.
The group scored the Sept. 15 AFP press conference in which they presented three Lumads who stated that the military was not responsible for the Sept 1 killings. Katribu said those presented are members of the Magahat-Bagani forces implicated in the killings, among them its leader, Marcial Belandres, who blamed the New People’s Army for the killings in Mindanao.
The indigenous groups also criticized the AFP claim that the killings were the result of a tribal war among Lumads, allegedly shown by findings of their investigation.
“The ‘tribal war’ the AFP is referring to is not between tribes, but between the AFP, plus their paramilitary pets, and us indigenous peoples,” stated Kerlan Fanagel of Sulong Katribu Partylist Southern Mindanao Region.
“There are no more tribal wars between the Lumads because of the tampuda,” said Campos. Tampuda hu Balagon is a peace pact between the Lumad tribes.
“We have pesticides for pests, insecticides for insects, and this government creates a new one: ethnocide, to kill off the Lumad people,” said Campos.
Seven ways to lie
In their press release, Karapatan enumerated a “standard operating procedure” of the government when forced to account for its human rights violations:
“1. Keep mum. Let the issue die down. #Dumededma
2. Deny. Feign innocence, even if a thousand witnesses attest to the culpability of the Aquino regime and the AFP. #DenialKing
3. Blame the victim/s. Tell the public it is right to kill the victims because they are members of the New People’s Army anyway; as if killing rebels is justified. #BoySisi
4. Blame the NPA. Tell the public human rights violations are committed by the New People’s Army. Never mind if earlier they claimed the victims are NPA members. #BoySisiReturns
5. Red tagging. Tag human rights violation/s as “communist propaganda” and the organizations raising the issue as “communist fronts”. #BoySisiReplay
6. Conduct a self-serving investigation to put the blame on others. Bring out false witnesses and “plant” evidence. Publish the result of the “investigation” to exonerate themselves. Or better, create an inter-agency task force in a bid to look more credible. #BoySisiMemasabiLang
7. Commit more atrocities against the people to divert attention, and take actions 1-6 stated above. #AlamNa #PalusotBulok”