Anakbayan-USA Condemns Killing of a Lumad Educator and Tribal Leaders, Militarization of Indigenous Schools

The following was released by Anakbayan-U.S.A. (http://bayanusa.org).

September 1, 2015 -- USA—National Filipino youth organization Anakbayan-USA condemns the torture and extrajudicial killing of an indigenous Lumad educator and tribals leaders by suspected elements of the 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and their paramilitary Magahat Bagani Forces at the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) tribal school in Sitio Han-ayan, Surigao Del Sur, Mindanao on the morning of August 30, 2015. Those killed include Emerito Samarca, executive director of ALCADEV, Dionel Campos, chairperson of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo.

ALCADEV is an alternative school built by the Lumad community to provide basic and secondary education to Lumad youth and the rest of the indigenous communities in Surigao Del Sur. The schools provide culturally-relevant education in literacy, agricultural production, and the right to defend their ancestral lands. It has been accused and labelled by the Philippine military as a “rebel school.”

Currently, more than 400 families, totaling 2000 people, have evacuated the area after soldiers threatened to massacre them. “There is a disturbing pattern of intensified attacks by government forces on indigenous schools and communities all across Mindanao. These attacks against civilians are brazen acts of state terrorism by the Philippine government,” said Yves Nibungco, national chairperson of Anakbayan-USA.

According to Anakbayan-USA, this spate of human rights violations is part of President Benigno Aquino III’s ‘desperate attempt’ to eliminate the resistance of indigenous communities against the entry of large-scale mining, logging companies and plantations in the area. “These human rights violations, military operations on communities, and killings of community leaders are products of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan, wherein the Philippine military is serving as an ‘investment defense force,’ or as a private military for large corporations,” said Nibungco.

Oplan Bayanihan is President Benigno Aquino III’s counterinsurgency program aimed at defeating the New People’s Army, which has been engaged in a civil war with the Philippine government for 46 years.

Anakbayan-USA also pointed out the role of the U.S. government in aggravating the human rights situation in the Philippines. “Oplan Bayanihan is patterned directly from the U.S. Counterinsurgency (COIN) Guide released in 2009. The U.S. has been complicit and has continued to condone these atrocities through its $50 million annual military aid to the Philippine military,” said Nibungco.

“We demand that the U.S. government immediately cut off all financial support for the Philippine military. We demand an end to the Oplan Bayanihan counter insurgency program. We call for an immediate pull out of the 36th Infantry Battalion and the dismantling of their paramilitary army, the Magahat Bagani Forces. We demand justice for Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, Aurelio Sinzo and all the victims of militarization in Mindanao. Aquino has blood on his hands and must be held accountable,” Nibungco concluded. ###