Monday, October 5, 2015

Senate probe on Lumad killings: “apparent unholy alliance” and denials

TANDAG CITY, Surigao del Sur (MindaNews/04 October) – The two-day Senate probe on Lumad killings ended Friday afternoon with Mindanawon senators Teofisto Guingona III and Aquilino Pimentel III echoing the call of Lumads (Indigenous Peoples), church and local government leaders to arrest, disarm and disband the “Magahat-Bagani” paramilitary group that has been repeatedly accused of sowing terror in several towns in Surigao del Sur and whose disbandment has also been repeatedly sought.
But the Bishop of Tandag is still waiting for answers to critical questions about the “apparent unholy alliance between the military and the paramilitary which the military vehemently denies.” 

On Thursday, Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar told the Senate probe on Lumad killings called for by the Committees on Justice and Human Rights, and Cultural Communities that he is “baffled” why, despite the military’s denials of an alliance, Marcial Belandres, one of the leaders of the paramilitary group and principal suspect in the October 2014 killing of Manobo teacher Henry Alameda and Aldren Dumaguit, was among three persons presented as Datus in a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on September 15.
In that press conference, Belandres and company cleared the military of alleged collusion with the paramilitary group and instead pointed to the New People’s Army (NPA) as the perpetrators of the killings and harassments.
The press conference came two weeks after the September 1 attack on Sitio Han-ayan, Diatagon, Lianga where Emerito Samarca, executive director of an alternative learning center, Lumad leader Dionel Campos and his cousin Bello Sinzo were killed early morning of September 1 by armed men known in the area as “Magahat-Bagani,” allegedly with soldiers from the 75thand 36thInfantry Battalions. - From mindanews.com

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