Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Lumads of Mindanao

By Anton Antonio
September 17, 2015

There are persistent reports from mainstream media that Lumads in some parts of Mindanao are being killed.  Wanting to understand what is going on I did a limited research on this issue and came up with the following new report…


DAVAO CITY – Indigenous peoples in the provinces of Davao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Bukidnon share the same experiences of being harassed, killed and displaces by paramilitary groups and government soldiers, according to Kalumaran, a federation of different tribes in Mindanao.  Aside from deaths and arrests, several lumad schools ran by nongovernment institutions were also targeted by government and paramilitary forces, Kalumaran added.  “It is a form of ethnocide, but it is worse because there are specific characteristics of impunity and killings targeting the lumad.  And what is alarming is that it is happening all over Mindanao,” said Kalumaran secretary general Dulphing Ogan.  Since May, more than 700 lumad have been displaced from their homes in Talaingod in Davao del Norte after government forces and the anticommunist paramilitary group Alamara targeted several villages in the town, Ogan said.  Hundreds of students were also deprived the right to attend their classes after at least 24 primary and secondary schools were shut down and the teachers receives death threats.  The schools were operated by Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center and Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. Academy.  Several villagers from San Fernando, Bukidnon, which shares borders with Davao del Norte, have been displaces since May this year after the Alama paramilitary group and government forces allegedly occupied their villages.  Some 700 lumad from Bukidnon and Davao del Norte have been staying at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines’ Haran Center in Davao City because of the alleged militarization in their communities.  Last July 23, more than 500 policemen and government agents conducted a “rescue operation” at the Haran Center to force the lumad to return to their homes.  The incident resulted in violence after the police forcibly opened the gates of the center.  At least 17 lumad and two policemen were injured in the confrontation between the lumad evacuees and the “rescuing” policemen.  On Aug. 18, five Manobo lumad, including a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old, were killed by the military’s Special Forces in Pangantucan town in Bukidnon.  The military said those killed were rebels, but the New People’s Army said the victims were civilians.  On Aug. 27, at least 11 Manobo tribal and farmer leaders were arrested by government soldiers in the town of Kitaotao in Bukidnon.  The military said the arrest was made after they served 57 search warrants in a community of suspected communist rebels where they reportedly yielded an improvised M16 rifle, an M79 grenade launcher, three rifle grenades, two explosives and antigovernment documents.  Capt. Alberto Caber, public information officer of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the operation “liberated” the village from the New People’s Army.  But Isidro Indao, spokesperson of the Kahugpongan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Kitaotao, said the leaders and their organizations were targeted because they were vocal in the campaign against human rights abuses in the mountain communities and were calling for the armed groups, especially the military, not to occupy civilian villages.  On Aug. 28, several families also fled their homes after the Bagani paramilitary group led by a certain Hasmin killed Manobo lumad brothers Crisanto and Loloy Tagugol in San Miguel town in Surigao del Sur.  On Sept. 1, at least 2,000 residents from Barangay Diatagon in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, evacuated after a paramilitary group, allegedly accompanied by soldiers, killed Emerico Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (Alcadev).  Alcadev is a privately operated but government-regulated learning institution that provides basic and technical education to lumad children in communities rarely reached by government services.  The armed men, locally known as the Magahat, also killed Dionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo.  Campos was a community leader and the chair of the indigenous people group Malihutayong Pakigbisog Alansa sa Sumusunod, which is known for its position on the protection of ancestral lands and its campaign against human rights violations targeting indigenous people.  These are just the major cases but it can provide a bigger picture that there is an ongoing systematic, planned and deliberate attempt to destroy the lumad.  The attacks focus on lumad areas with established indigenous schools and peoples organizations,” Ogan said.  There can be no other reason behind the attack but the frustration of the military and companies on the persistence of the tribes not to allow the operations of extractive economic activities in the area like mining and logging, Ogan added.  “These areas are the best spots to extract gold, nickel and copper.  And these areas are also the remaining forests in Mindanao,” Ogan said.  Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel earlier blames the paramilitary Magahat behind the fillings in Lianga, but he disclosed that this group was created, trained, funded and armed by the military for its counterinsurgency campaign.  The military denounced the killings and vowed that it would fully support the ongoing investigations.” --- Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao


DAVAO CITY – Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel on Friday said the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary force that recently killed a school director and two Manobo lumad residents in Lianga town was a “monster created by the military.”  A least 2,000 residents from the village of Diatagon fled their homes after members of the Magahat-Bagani --- allegedly accompanied by soldiers --- killed Emerico Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) in the morning of Sept. 1.  Samarca was found dead inside a classroom.  He had a stab wound and his throat was slit open.  Alcadev is a privately operated but government-regulated learning institution that provides basic and technical education to lumad children in communities rarely reached by government services.  After killing Samarca, the lumad men gathered the residents and killed Dionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo.  Campos was a community leader and chair of the indigenous people’s group Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alansa sa Sumusunod (Mapasu), which is known to fight for ancestral land and campaign against human rights violations targeting indigenous people.  The Magahat-Bagani also razed the building of a community cooperative not far from the school compound.  Pimentel said the Magahat-Bagani force, which is composed of at least 30 heavily armed men, had been a persistent security problem in the province.  “They killed people including barangay leaders.  They are the same people creating chaos in at least four towns,” Pimentel told the Inquirer by phone.  The four towns, Pimentel said, include Lianga, San Agustin and Marihatag.  Pimentel disclosed that the people and the government knew very well that the paramilitary group was created by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  “This is the creation of the military.  But they created a monster that they could no longer control,” Pimentel said.  The governor explained that the creation of the Magahat-Bagani Force was part of the military’s counterinsurgency campaign.  “The Bagani is being used by the Army for counterinsurgency,” Pimentel said.  “I know how it works,” said the governor.  “Before the group was created and before training started, I already learned about that.  The same thing happened in Patukan (in Compostela Valley) and other areas.  Where will they (Bagani) get the money?  An Armalite rifle cost at least P150,000.  The firearms came from the Army,” he said.  The governor said he has been pleading to the military to disband the Bagani.  “For the past two years I have been asking the military to disband and disarm them but nothing happened,” Pimentel said.  On Aug. 31, Pimentel said he had a meeting with the 4th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, 401st Brigade commander Col. Alexander Macario and 402nd Brigade commander Col. Isidro Purisima about the Bagani because militiamen killed two lumad brothers in the town of San Miguel on Aug. 28.  “When will you act on it?  The Bagani should be disbanded,” Pimentel recalled telling the military officers during the meeting, warning of the Bagani going on a rampage.  Just as Pimentel had predicted, the killings happened in Lianga.  Pimentel identified the leaders of the Magahat as Marcos Bocales, Bob Tejero and Loloy Tejero, while the leader of the Bagani force as Calpet Egua, who is based in Agusan del Sur.  The governor said he ordered the arrest of Bocales in 2009, but local authorities could not catch up with him and his followers, despite them usually being “seen inside the camp” of the military.  “If only I can, I would declare war on them,” said Pimentel.  “I want Bocales and Tejero dead because the people are pitiful.  It’s too much already,” he added.  The military had denied allegation it was behind the militia and even vowed to support an investigation.  Purisima, in an earlier press statement said more soldiers had been sent to help investigate the killings in Lianga and “go after the perpetrators.”  “We shall not let these criminals roam and threaten the peace-loving people of Surigao del Sur.  We will let then face the crimes they’ve committed,” he added.  For his part, Lactao said the killings had affected the peace programs of the provincial government.  “We condemn the crime committed by this armed group.  It is very unfortunate that this situation happened,” Lactao said.  “We will support and participate in the conduct of this fact finding mission and the ongoing investigation by PNP to give justice to the victims of this crime,” Lactao added.  But Pimentel said the support that he needed from the military was the immediate disbandment of the militia and the prosecution of those behind the fillings.  The provincial government is also asking AFP chief of staff Gen, Hernando Irriberi, who is from Surigao del Sur, to intervene and exact accountability over the alleged abuses of the militia and the role of the military in its operations.  “The people are also appealing to presidential adviser on the peace process Ging Deles to also intervene and help resolve the issue,” Pimentel said.” ---- Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao

Peace and order in the countryside is a critical component to rural development.  This is one of the problems that made upland communities the poorest of the poor.  Poor and relatively uneducated, upland dwellers as well as isolated rural communities are suckers to exploitation and intimidation from armed elements (within and outside legal and constitutional structure).  The lumads are part of these communities.  Unless something is done to keep the lumads and indigenous communities safe and secure, they will remain economically undeveloped.  Peace and order is the initial and starting condition to improving the lives of the lumads of Mindanao.

Thoughts to promote positive action…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders on Facebook or follow me at and

REFERENCE:, (2015). “Lumad in Gold-Rich Mindanao Targeted”.  Retrieved on September 17, 2015 from, (2015). “Militia in Lumad Killings a Monster Created by Military”.  Retrieved on September 17, 2015 from

No comments:

Post a Comment