Rural missionaries group condemns killing of Lumad school executive, Lumad leader and cousin in Surigao del Sur
Manila, Philippines - The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) strongly condemned the merciless killing of Emerito Samarca, Executive Director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) together with Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu) chairperson Jionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo who were killed by alleged members of para-military group Magahat yesterday September 1, 2015 early morning. The gruesome crime took place inside the Alcadev compound in sitio Han-ayan, Brgy. Diatagon, Liangga town in Surigao Del Sur.
“We firmly believe that this is part of the comprehensive violation against Lumad communities and their alternative schools in northern and southern Mindanao, Socsargen and Caraga regions by state forces and its para-military groups under the framework of the Aquino administration’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,” Sr. Francis Añover, RSM, RMP National Coordinator said in a statement.
Alcadev is an alternative learning system especially designed to provide secondary education to indigent indigenous youth – the Manobo, Banwaon, Higanon, Talaandig, and Mamanwa of Surigao del Norte and Sur and Agusan Norte and Sur.
RMP said that the latest violation of the people’s right to life, more of the people who strive hard to uplift the lives of many Lumad indigenous people who were marginalized and neglected by the state is a worst form of disgrace. It added that since 2004, when Alcadev was established as the first alternative school for Lumad youth in Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur, the list of rights abuses against its staff and Lumad has been piling up. Since 2010, military forces have been harassing and attempting to shut down Alcadev.
According to a report of Karapatan Caraga human rights group, two days prior, around 20 elements of 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) and Special Forces of AFP have been coercing the community to evacuate or else be massacred.
“We encourage different sectors especially the church people to join and support in condemning the continuous attack to Lumad communities and their alternative learning schools. We challenge the Aquino government to immediately act and stop the political killings, harassment and militarization not only in Suriagao del Sur but the whole Mindanao region,” Añover said.
“We also urge the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to condole with the victims by condemning the offense and the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan,” she added. ###
The RMP is a national organization, inter-congregational and inter-diocesan in character, of women and men religious, priests and lay. We live and work with the peasants (farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples and agricultural workers).