The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today challenged the human rights panels of both the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to immediately probe the heinous killing of three peasant and indigenous peoples’ leaders by paramilitary forces belonging to the ‘Magahat Bagani Force’ which the described as President Aquino’s version of ‘Alsa Masa,’ a dreaded paramilitary group during the 80’s.
Brutally killed yesterday by the members of the Mahagat Bagani were Emerito ‘Tatay Emok’ Samarca, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) and former staff of Unyon sa Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte (UMAN-KMP), Dionel ‘Onel’ Campos, chairman of indigenous peoples’ group Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod or the Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation (MAPASU) and, Jovillo ‘Bello’ Sinzo. The massacre happened in KM 16, Han-Ayan, Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
The Mahagat Bagani shot dead Campos and Sinzo while Samarca was found dead in one of the schoolrooms with his arms and legs tied with ropes and bearing a stab wound.
“The government cannot turn a blind eye on this brutal, inhumane killing of development workers and activists advocating the rights of farmers and indigenous peoples. We demand the House and Senate committees on human rights and the justice department to initiate a fair and thorough probe on the Alcadev killings, the latest in the escalating extra-judicial killings under the Aquino administration,” says KMP chairperson Rafael Mariano.
The Senate committee on justice and human rights is chaired by Senator Francis Escudero and his counterpart in the Lower House is Surigao del Norte Rep. Guillermo Romarate Jr. while Secretary Leila De Lima heads the DOJ.
The Mahagat Bagani Forces paramilitary group operates together with the 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and was created by the Eastern Mindanao Command to serve as an auxiliary force multiplier for Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan (OpBay) counterinsurgency campaign in the CARAGA region.
“The Mahagat Bagani is no less than President Aquino’s version and a resurrection of Cory Aquino’s ‘Alsa Masa’ paramilitary group that also killed hundreds of civilians in Mindanao during the 1980s. We demand the urgent dismantling of Mahagat Bagani,” Mariano said noting that “the Cojuangcos are notorious of employing paramilitary groups and private armies like the notorious Yellow Army in Hacienda Luisita.”
“The AFP created this Mahagat Bagani killing machine that targets civilians. It is highly responsible and accountable for the spate of human rights violations in CARAGA,” he said.
Based on a fact sheet issued by KARAPATAN-CARAGA, on August 30, the Magahat Bagani threatened to massacre the residents if they refuse to leave the village within two days. The following day, on August 31, paramilitary group burned the office of MAPASU and discriminately fired gunshots within the civilian area.
They also seized and detained Samarca inside the ALCADEV compound.
The intense harassment and intimidation of Han-ayan residents and ALCADEV school staff resulted to the forced evacuation of hundreds of families, mostly indigenous peoples.
Magahat Bagani Forces led by a certain Marcos Bocales are also involved in the killing of Henry Alameda and Aldren Dumaguit on October 24, 2014. ###
Correction: September 3, 2015
An earlier version of this article reported the incorrect name of one of the victims. It was not Aurelio Sinzo that was murdered, it was Jovillo “Bello” Sinzo.