01 September 2015
AN OPEN LETTER
To His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III
RE: School executive, IP leader and a civilian killed
Paramilitary group massacres 3 in Lumad School in Surigao Sur
Date of incident: 01 September 2015
Place of incident: Lianga, Surigao del Sur
The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR) joins the Filipino human rights defenders, educators, people’s organizations and international rights groups in strongly condemning the barbaric and inhuman act of killing of Emerito Samarca, executive director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), a self-initiated school for the Lumad. He was found dead on September 1, with a stab wound inside one of the classrooms in the school compound in Han-ayan, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
Also killed in Km. 16, some three kilometres from Han-ayan, were Dionel Campos, chairperson of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) and his cousin, Bello Sinzo. The two were shot by members of the Magahat/Bagani force in the presence of their community members in Km. 16.
According to the report we received from KARAPATAN, two days prior to the killing, the Magahat/Bagani Force and elements of the 36th IB encamped at the ALCADEV school compound and occupied the function hall and parts of the school grounds. During the encampment, the Magahat group threatened the school faculty members, staff and community members that they will massacre the community if the people will not leave in two days.
On August 31, the MAGAHAT group burned down the community cooperative store of MAPASU while indiscriminately firing around the community. Emerito Samarca, according to the report was held and detained by some armed members of Magahat before he was killed. He was last seen tied around the neck, his hands and feet were also tied. He was brought to one of the classrooms.
On the evening of August 31, the ALCADEV faculty and most of the residents in Han-ayan went to Km. 16 for safety. At around 4 a.m., Magahat Forces went from house to house in Km. 16 and ordered the residents to get out of their houses and go to the center of the community. That was when Campos and Sinzo were met by a volley of gunfire from brothers Loloy and Bobby Tejero of the Magahat/Bagani Force.
Magahat members also confiscated all cellphones and cameras from the residents and ALCADEV staff and remaining visitors in the community.
According to KARAPATAN, the Bagani paramilitary and the 36th IB has long been accusing self-help Lumad school ALCADEV as NPA school, killing the teachers and organizers in the community, consequently depriving the Lumad of their education.
Mr. President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we ask that you order an immediate pull-out of the 36th Infantry Battalion in Lumad communities in Lianga, Surigao del Sur and the dismantling of paramilitary groups in this dirty war against the Filipino people.
We further urge your administration:
1. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights to look into these incidents of human rights violations; and, to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators.
2. To observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major Human Rights instruments that the Philippine government is a party and signatory to.
Finally we call on your administration and all its institutions to uphold the basic human rights of the citizens whom you have sworn to serve.
The Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights
1. Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
2. Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila, Philippines
Direct Line 521-1908
Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.211/214
Fax: (+632) 523-9548
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, (+632) 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102