Demands for the dismantling of the Mahagat Bagani Force
The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) joins the widespread condemnation of the brutal killings of Emerito Samarca, Executive Director of the alternative school (ALCADEV) for indigenous people, Dionel Campos, chairman of local indigenous peoples’ (IP) group Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod or the Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation (Mapasu) and his cousin, Aurelio Sinzo, perpetrated by paramilitary group belonging to Magahat Bagani Force on 1 September 2015.
The killings happened at 4 a.m. when the Mahagat Bagani woke up residents of Kilometer 16 in Diatagon village, Lianga town in Surigao del Sur and forced them out of their homes. Soldiers and the paramilitary group had been in the area since 30 August, according to reports.
Rafael Mariano, Chairperson of APC, based in the Philippines, stated that, “Those who were killed belonged to legitimate indigenous peoples who have been defending their ancestral lands and resources against large-scale mining and plantations being pushed by the Benigno Simeon C. Aquino government. These latest killings only meant to spread terror and weaken IP communities’ determination to assert their initiatives and defend their victories.”
Mariano added that, “these heinous crimes and intimidation of Han-ayan residents and ALCADEV staff resulted to the forced evacuation of hundreds of families, mostly indigenous peoples. Thus, denying them of an alternative education and genuine development provided by the ALCADEV.”
“We call for justice to the victims and we demand to stop the systematic and continuing militarization in the CARAGA-Region reportedly being committed by President Aquino’s armed forces deployed in their areas for anti-insurgency operations,” said Mariano, also the KMP national chairperson.
The APC reiterates the call of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP) to investigate the spate of killings and to urgently dismantle the Mahagat Bagani Force.
The APC stands with the Lumads and people of Mindanao for their fight against state terrorism, for genuine agrarian reform and for self-determination.###