MANILA, Sept. 9, 2015 – Even if there is truth to the allegation that they were Communists, this alone can never justify the brutal killing of three Lumads in Mindanao recently and the ongoing persecution of many more, a Catholic religious sister asserts.
“Whether they were indeed members of the NPA (New People’s Army) is immaterial. Everybody has a right to the due process of the law,” stressed Sr. Cres Lucero, SFIC, national coordinator of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) – Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), in an interview.
According to her, AMRSP joins other pro-poor groups in denouncing the cold-blooded murder of Emerito “Tatay Emok” Samarca and cousins Dionel Campos and Aurelio “Bello” Sinzo on suspicion that they were Leftist rebels, and the intimidation of the Lumad populations of Lianga, Surigao del Sur, and Pangantucan, Bukidnon by paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani on the grounds that they were harboring insurgents.
Samarca was the executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development, Inc. (ALCADEV) and Dionel Campos was the chairperson of MAPASU (Persevering Struggle for Future Manobo Generations).
In line with this, Lucero shared her group is preparing a letter to President Benigno S. Aquino III, urging him to take immediate action and to use his power to end the culture of violence in the region, given that it affects mostly innocent civilians.
Manifestation of injustice
Meanwhile, Br. Jaazeal Jakosalem, OAR believes the incident was a clear manifestation of injustice, saying it is a continuing oppression by government military forces against those who are working with the poor.
“A cry of the earth, a cry of the poor… This is related to the oppression of the indigenous peoples who are educated on their rights and dignity,” he said.
Jakosalem agreed with Lucero that no person should be killed based only on suspicion.
He further lamented that being pro-poor has always been associated with rebellion.
He added that the best thing PNoy can do now is to sanction the ground commander in the area, and create a taskforce which will bring perpetrators of the crime into account. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)