OVER 2,000 lumad, the indigenous people (IP) of Southern Mindanao, have fled their homes due to violence that had claimed the lives of IP elders.
On Sept. 1, Emerico Samarca was found dead inside a classroom. Dionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo were brutally murdered on the same day.
Samarca was the school director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Campos was chair of the IP group Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alansa sa Sumusunod (Mapasu). The latter has opposed attempts by certain business and political interests to take over ancestral lands of the IPs.
The lumad, or natives, supported by partylist Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu) and the local government of Surigao del Sur, point at the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Magahat-Bagani paramilitary unit as responsible for the killings.
According to Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnnt Pimentel, the AFP uses Magahat-Bagani as a paramilitary force in its counter-insurgency campaign.
Even before the incident, there had been many cases of extrajudicial killings of the lumad; and IP families from Southern Mindanao had fled to escape the conflict.
In 2012, lumad leader Landong Sadrac was walking the streets of Misamis Oriental when unidentified armed men attacked him. A year earlier, he survived an assassination attempt. He was against the mining in his area.
On the same year, 35 Manobo families camped in front of the provincial capitol in Bukidnon after their barangay leader Jimmy Liguyon was shot in front of his kids.
His family believes he was killed because he was opposing the large-scale mining operations in his community.
Higaonon leader Gilbert Paborada was assassinated in 2012 allegedly because he was the chair of an indigenous group that was against A. Brown Co. Inc., an American firm that planned to develop an oil plantation in the village of Bagocboc in Misamis Oriental.
The pregnant wife of B’laan leader Dagil Capion, along with their 13-year-old and 8-year-old children, were murdered because his family had supported a movement against the large-scale mining in Davao del Sur. It happened in 2012.
On Boracay in Aklan, Dexter Condez, an Ati leader, was killed on Feb. 22, 2013 in Boracay. He was opposing the encroachment of an international hotel resort development on Ati land on the island, which is world-renowned for its white-sand beaches.