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State forces intensify harassment vs Lianga evacuees

Karapatan-Caraga had condemned the unrelenting persecution allegedly committed by the 75th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police of Lianga against the Surigao del Sur evacuees by filing trumped-up cases against their leaders and support groups.

In an emailed statement, Karapatan-Caraga claims the complaint is a brazen use of the justice system and the laws created to protect civilians, by the military and police to silence the Lumad’s opposition against their abuses.

“This is meant to cower the Lumad of Surigao del Sur into allowing the plunder of their ancestral lands in the Andap Valley Complex by coal mining companies,” the statement reads in part.

The human rights group said the complaint is against 30 individuals most of who are leaders of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu).

The PNP-Lianga cited the report of a certain Datu Jumar Bucales and the testimonies of three persons who claimed that they attended the assembly of the Mapasu communities and witnessed the Mapasu leaders of forcing the Lumad to evacuate.

“Datu Jumar Bucales is none other than Marcos Bocales, self-proclaimed datu and leader of the military organized and armed Magahat-Bagani paramilitary force. The Magahat-Bagani is accused of brutally killing Mapasu chairperson Dionel Campos and Datu Jovello Sinzo and educator Emerito Samarca in Sept. 1, 2015,” the group said.

It added that three of its leaders Loloy Tejero, Bobby Tejero and Garito Layno have been charged in court but remains free and Marcos Bocales continue to be used by the 75th IBPA against the Lumad.

“He, along with 75th IBPA soldiers harassed the evacuees at the Diatagon gymnasium, rabidly attacking Mapasu, the Lumad schools of Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur and the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development,” Karapatan-Caraga’s statement reads.

The group further claimed that the three witnesses to the complaints are not residents of the the tribal communities, ergo could not have attended any Mapasu community consultations.

“The Lumad evacuees have time and again, through their organization Mapasu, expressed their opposition against coal mining within their ancestral lands, military encampment and the establishment of military detachment in their communities,” the group said.

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