Press Release
September 13, 2015

Nancy appalled about lumad women and children's fate in Mindanao evacuation centers
Senator calls for investigation into alleged human rights violations by AFP, paramilitary groups

Senator Nancy Binay expressed grave concern about the fate of thousands of indigenous peoples (IPs) staying in evacuation centers in Mindanao, particularly lumad women and children. Many IPs fled their villages in various Mindanao provinces after various human rights violations were allegedly committed by soldiers and paramilitary groups.

"Nakakabahala na po ang mga reports na may namatay at nagkakasakit na, lalo na sa mga bata at mga kababaihan, sa mga evacuation centers," Binay said.

"I am urging the national government, particularly the Departments of Health and Social Welfare, to come to the aid of our IPs," she added.

A four-year old girl died of asthma, while two children were confirmed to have chicken pox while inside an evacuation center in Surigao del Sur, according to reports.

"Isa pang nakakabahala ay yung mga reports na marami ang nakaranas ng psychological trauma at kung hindi nanginginig sa takot, e umiiyak o di kaya'y nakatingin na lang," Binay said.

Surigao del Sur governor Johnny Pimentel have called on the government to "disarm, disband or kill" the paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani, who he said was created by the Philippine Army.

Binay filed Tuesday Senate Resolution No. 1573, directing "the proper Senate Committees to investigate, in aid of legislation, the reported human rights violations against Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) in Mindanao perpetrated by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and paramilitary groups."

Various units of the the Armed Forces of the Philippines(AFP), particularly elements of the 36th Infantry Battalion, the 75th Infantry Battalion, the Special Forces of the Philippine Army, and the paramilitary Magahat/Bagani Forces/Marcos Bocales Group, in the guise of counterinsurgency operations called Oplan Bayanihan, were reportedly perpetrating human rights violations against ICCs/IPs in Mindanao.

"It is the duty of the Senate, by policy or by law, to protect and promote the rights of ICCs/IPs to life, to their ancestral domain, and to the equal enjoyment of the full measure of human rights and freedoms without distinction or discrimination." she said.

Members of the Magahat/Bagani group rounded up the villagers of Han-ayan, Lianga, Surigao del Sur last September 1 and made them to witness the killing of Dionel Campos, chairperson of MAPASU (Persevering Struggle for Future Manobo Generations), and his cousin Aurelio "Bello" Sinzo.

Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development, Inc. (ALCADEV), an award-winning IP school, was later found lying in a pool of blood, with stab wounds on his neck. He was reportedly killed by military and government-backed indigenous paramilitary forces.

Magahat members were reported by witnesses to have burned down the school cooperative building two days before the killings. The entire community was also threatened to be massacred if they would not leave the area.

A 14-year Manobo girl was also reported to have been raped by three soldiers of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade while the unit was conducting military operations in Talaingod, Davao del Sur.

Save Our Schools Network, a network of child-focused NGOs, church-based groups and other stakeholders advocating for children's right to education, said in a statement that various forms of attacks and harassment were documented to have been perpetrated by AFP and paramilitary units to IPs.

These resulted in the displacement of IP communities, as well as the disruption of the education of schoolchildren due to IP schools being closed. Other IP leaders and members were also harassed, strafed and killed.

"It is imperative to inquire on the human rights violations committed against ICCs/IPs by the military and paramilitary groups to put an end to such abuses and practices under the pretense of counterinsurgency military operations," Binay said.

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