PRESS STATEMENT: STOP THE ATTACKS ON THE LUMAD OF CARAGA!

Statement
Reference: Media officer 09207849657
March 8, 2019

STOP THE ATTACKS ON THE LUMAD OF CARAGA!

In just a month of the third extension of Martial Law in Mindanao, the AFP already unleashed relentless brutality against the Lumad people of Caraga. Five battalions are currently deployed in the small region of Caraga: the 29th IBPA, 30th IBPA, 36th IBPA, 75th IBPA and 3rd Special Forces Battalion under the 401st and 402nd Infantry Battalion of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom). They launch intense military operations, primarily in Lumad and peasant communities with economic interests of large-scale mining, plantations and other projects.

These have resulted to alarming human rights violations.

Three (3) Lumad have become victims of extra-judicial killings in Caraga. Last September 15, 2018, Rex Hangadon, 23 years old, a Higaonon, member of Pig-akoman Lumad organization in Sitio Bulak, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, was shot dead. His farm hut was strafed by operating troops belonging to the 23rd IBPA. In January 24, 2019, four (4) Manobo farmers, all residents of Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur and members of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) were indiscriminately fired upon by operating troops of the 75th IBPA at the crossing of Km. 19, Brgy. Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. The four (4) Lumad farmers were carrying harvested abaca hemp. Emel Tejero and Randel Gallego were killed. To cover-up their killing of civilians, the military declared the two as members of the NPA and planted firearms. The dead bodies were turned-over to the San Agustin Police. Upon claiming the bodies, Randel’s mother saw the abaca hemp, boots and other personal belongings of Randel, his body covered with grass and mud. The military did not embalm the dead bodies thus these were already decomposing when the families were able to claim them.

The primary victims of intensified military operations are the civilian Lumad and farmers. The military constantly violate international agreements on human rights and refused to respect and recognize the agreements formed between the residents, local government, church people and groups advocating for human rights.

Since early December 2018, Lumad farmers, motorcycle drivers, students and teachers of TRIFPSS and ALCADEV were subjected to harassments. The military imposed food blockade in the checkpoint operated by the 75th IBPA in Sitio Neptune, Brgy. Diatagon. Residents passing the checkpoint were forced to write their names in a logbook and their pictures taken, Lumads who brought rice and other products to sell in their retail stores were held and their goods alluded (by the military) as that of the NPA.

The AFP conducted bombings and strafing and these were confirmed by Maj. Rodulfo S. Cordero, Jr. himself, the chief of Public Affairs Office of 401st Brigade. According to him, they conducted the bombings under the orders of Brig. Gen. Andres C. Centino, commanding general of the 401st Brigade. They bombed and strafed the mountain areas and farms of Sitio Decoy and Panukmoan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur last December 31, 2018 and January 8, 2019, forcing residents to evacuate seven (7) times. 170 families consisting of 920 individuals from seven (7) communities of MAPASU, evacuated for 41 days from December 14, 2018 to January 24, 2019. Just 78 days after the Lumad evacuees returned from Lianga, San Agustin, Marihatag and Tago, Surigao del Sur last August 18, 2018, the military again encamped in Sitio Simowao, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga. They conducted a ‘census’ of residents in the community and took pictures of the houses and residents without their consent.

They also did these in Agusan del Sur, forcing the Lumad Banwaon, Higaonon and Talaandig to evacuate due to intense military operations in their communities. Meanwhile the Lumad Mamanwas in Agusan del Norte of Katigahan organization, were threatened and military troops of the 30th IBPA encamped in the communities .

There is also widespread filing of trumped-up charges and forced fake surrender of civilians. In Surigao del Norte, trumped-up charges were filed and civilian Lumad-Mamanwas of the organization Kayapan-Amihan were forced to surrender as NPA by 29th IBPA troops. In Agusan del Norte, the Lumad Mamanwas of the organization Apogan were victims of forced surrender and indiscriminate firing, encampment in houses by military troops under 29th IBPA who harassed and threatened them.

There were many more violations committed by the military against the Lumad people. Countless cases of threats, harassments, vilification, placing photos of leaders and teachers on tarpaulins alongside known members of the CPP-NPA-NDF and so called terrorists which were displayed by the military. The Lumad are constantly interrogated, imposed food blockade and terrorized in military checkpoints by the highway and at the entrance of their own communities.

Under martial law, six (6) Lumad were victims of extra-judicial killings and two (2) were victims of frustrated killings. Fifty three (53) Lumad have been charged with trumped-up cases, nine of which are teachers of ALCADEV, TRIFPSS and PMISD. Many ordinary civilians were forced to surrender as NPA and countless Lumad harassed and threatened. The indiscriminate bombings, encampment in houses, abuse of women and youth, redtagging and many more violations resulted to sixteen (16) incidents of forcible evacuations of 1, 988 families or 8, 698 individuals from seventy (70) Lumad communities in the region.

This is the portrait of Martial Law in Mindanao. These happened in areas where there are large-scale mining operations, plantations and hydropower projects. Thus, it is evident that the attacks committed by the AFP are intended to quell the resistance of the Lumad against 23 operating large-scale mining of nickel, chromite, and gold and against the entry of 15 coal mines, expansion of plantations of banana and oil palm and other destructive projects on our ancestral lands.

Under such conditions, the Lumad people in Caraga join the Lumad people in Mindanao and the whole country and all concerned groups and individuals, as we continue to strengthen and solidify our unity and help each other in defending our ancestral lands and in achieving the right to self-determination.

Stop attacking the Lumad!
Oppose the fascism of the US-Duterte regime!
End Martial Law in Mindanao!
Military in the countryside, out now!
Stop the tyranny of the US-Duterte regime!
Respect human rights!
Defend ancestral lands!
Uphold the right to self-determination!

Source: Kasalo Caraga facebook page

Date: March 08, 2019