MANOBO tribesmen in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur have fled their homes following the death of their two leaders and the head of the Lumad school there on September 1.
Emerito Samarca, 54, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), Dionel Campos, chairperson of the Manobo group Malahutayong Pakigbigsog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu), and Campos’s cousin Bello Sinzo were believed to have been killed by Bagahat/Bagani paramilitary forces.
Bishop Modesto Villasanta of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Lianga said in a phone interview with Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Tuesday the three were killed inside Alcadev compound, the alternative tribal school in the area.
Villasanta said the paramilitary members roused the tribesmen and led them out of their homes.
Samarca, who was asked to stay behind, was found dead with a stab wound Tuesday morning inside a classroom.
Campos and Sinzo were gunned down as emerged from their houses, Villasanta said.
He said soldiers from the Army's 36th Infantry Battalion and Special Forces just stood by as the militiamen carried out their murderous spree.
As of Tuesday night, about 40 Manobo families had left for Tandag City where the remains of the lumad leaders killed were also brought.
The Manobos had just ended the two-day celebration of the lumad school's anniversary.
"We want justice for the victims, unta matutukan na gyud unta sa gobyerno ang pagdaghan sa extrajudicial killings, dili nata maghuwat na mudaghan pa," Villasanta said.
Captain Jo Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro, said the identity of the killers is still unclear.
“We cannot conclude kung sino ba talaga ito sila, kasi wala pa pong official statement from 36 IB, ongoing pa yung investigation which we fully support naman,” Martinez told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone Tuesday.
He said the witnesses’ description were vague.
“Naka-hood daw ang mga pumatay. We are still collecting the affidavits sa mga nakakita So, with the absence of the official report, ang atin lang masasabi is, the suspects are unidentified armed group, hindi pa natin ma-confirm kung NPA, or kung ano yung sinasabi ng mga tao doon. Wala pa pong sure,” he said.