Press Release
October 13, 2015

Pimentel sues for disbandment of paramilitary groups in Mindanao

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III today asked the government to immediately disband the paramilitary groups operating in Mindanao, saying the issue of who between the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police would hunt those involved in the recent killings of lumad leaders must also be resolved at once.

Pimentel, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, condemned the killings of lumad leaders that led to the displacement of thousands of indigenous tribesmen for fear of being caught in the crossfire of an escalating battle that had already claimed the lives of three prominent lumad leaders.

Emerito Samarca, executive director of the lumad school Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development, and community leaders Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, were believed murdered by members of paramilitary groups operating in the province on Sept. 1.

Quoting an internal report by the 4th Infantry Division of the Army, Pimentel said there are at least eight armed groups operating in the provinces of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur that are accused of human rights violations against tribal communities in Mindanao which the AFP and the PNP should immediately disband.

Reports said that more than 6,000 indigenous people have already fled their homes because they are not being given protection from atrocities and threats being allegedly perpetrated by the paramilitary groups, including the Jomar Bocales and Tejero-Belandres groups, suspects in the Sept. 1 massacre of lumad leaders.

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