Justice for Emok Samarca, Onel Campos, and Datu Bello Sinzo!
Revoke Executive Order 546! Disband Bagani-Magahat Paramilitary!
We join this day of national mourning in solidarity with the families and communities of Emok Samarca, Onel Campos, and Datu Bello Sinzo. Our hearts weigh heavy–once again, invaluable lives have been brutally snuffed out. Our katutubo brothers and sisters have been robbed of their leaders, teachers, fathers, grandfathers, husbands, and friends. The Bagani-Magahat’s indescribably vicious and deplorable acts of terror were not implemented in isolation. With obvious collusion and cooperation by the 36th IB, Philippine Army—whose presence in the Manobo communities in Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur foreshadowed the coming of the Bagani-Magahat’s rampage–we join our voices with the multitude to #StopLumadKillings. We call on President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, as Executive Officer and Commander-In-Chief of the Philippines, to revoke Executive Order 546, to pull Armed Forces of the Philippines(AFP) operating under Oplan Bayanihan out of the community, and to disband the Bagani-Magahat paramilitary immediately!
The travesty of military and paramilitary operations in Mindanao has exacted great costs from Lumad communities. Terrorized with threats of further brutality, thousands of katutubo have been forced to flee their communities. The military and paramilitary trend of occupying school compounds and harassing teachers and students reached another peak with the brutal torture and killing of Executive Director Emok Samarca of ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development) on the school grounds in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. The public killing of Onel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo allegedly by Bagani-Magahat Paramilitary Loloy and Bobby Tejero, the burning of the community cooperative, and the order to the entire community to “flee within two days or be massacred” demonstrate the extreme terror tactics, violations of human rights, and threats to public order that are erupting in Indigenous Peoples’ communities in Mindanao. Children have been denied their access to education. Entire communities have been uprooted and forcibly displaced. People have been denied their human rights—even their right to life. And, cultural and collective rights of Lumad communities, including their right to self-determination, have been placed at jeopardy.
Our demand to #StopLumadKillings is clear. President Aquino must disband paramilitary units, who are utilized to sow terror in communities and ramped up to commit atrocities, for which the AFP then denies any responsibility or connection. In his 2010 campaign platform, President Aquino promised to revoke Executive Order 546 that created the possibility of arming and recruiting local forces (supposedly under the direction of Philippine National Police) and allowed for the police to become “force multipliers” for the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Since his election, President Aquino not only failed to deliver on this promise, but he has even supported the expansion of military-supervised paramilitary units and sanctioned these paramilitary units to be utilized by private mining corporations. The deadly rampage of the Bagani-Magahat paramilitary in Lianga, Surigao del Sur is but another experience in a long line of brazen human rights violations committed by paramilitary forces throughout Mindanao. Efforts by the AFP and President Aquino to wash their hands of responsibility for this atrocity will not stand, as the military and paramilitary descended on the same ominous and threatening “winds” into the community on the days before the September 1, 2015 atrocity. The only appropriate response is to immediately disband the Bagani-Magahat paramilitary and arrest Loloy and Bobby Tejero for their alleged murder of Onel Campos, and Datu Bello Sinzo.
Government and foreign interests in the rich mineral resources and agricultural lands of the Andap Valley and other regions of Mindanao combined with the continuing Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency program have resulted in precarious situations for many Lumad communities. In our outrage and unbearable grief over the brutal extra-judicial killings of Emok Samarca, Onel Campos, and Datu Bello Sinzo, we remember our Lumadbrothers and sisters throughout Mindanao. We denounce the on-going militarization that has caused the internal displacement of thousands of Lumad. And as we sound the alarm to #StopLumadKillings, we hope that our call will echo from mountains to mountain and ripple across the seas of our archipelago. We must stand united in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples, upholding their rights and respecting their ancestral lands! We say to President Aquino: Revoke Executive Order 546! Disband Bagani-Magahat Paramilitary! Scrap Oplan Bayanihan! #StopLumadKillings!
Reference: Mr. Nardy Sabino, General Secretary, Promotion of Church People’s Response, 0928 385 4123