(Updated) ALCADEV Exec.Director, 2 Lumads killed by AFP units and paramilitary group; community members forced to evacuate

The Urgent Action Alert page is for newest Urgent Action Alert releases from the Karapatan: Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights‘ listserv.  You can also sign up to be on their listserv on their website.

Please send a copy of your email/fax/mail to government officials to urgentaction@karapatan.org and nychrp@gmail.com


14 Massacres

(Updated) ALCADEV Exec.Director, 2 Lumads killed by AFP units and paramilitary group; community members forced to evacuate

(Updated UA_September 7, 2015)

On September 1, at around 4 a.m., members of the AFP’s paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani Force/Marcos Bocales group opened fire at Dionel Campos and his cousin Juvello Sinzo (earlier reported as Aurello/Bello Sinzo) and a staff member of ALCADEV Belen Itallo in the presence of the community members in Km.16, Bgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Campos and Sinzo died instantly, while Itallo survived. The back of Campos’s head was blown off, as some witnesses believed armed men used M203 rifle to shoot him. Sinzo’s arms were also broken due to gunshot wounds.

In the same morning, Emerito Samarca’s remains was found in one of the classrooms in school compound of ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development). Samarca is Executive Director of ALCADEV. His throat was slit open, with the cut that ranged from ear to ear. He was also shot two times on the chest.

The killings happened while the same paramilitary group burnt down the community’s cooperative store. 

UA Date : September 7, 2015

UA Case : Extrajudicial killing, frustrated killing, threat and harassment, forcible evacuation, use of schools for military purpose, torture, divestment of property, destruction of property, indiscriminate firing


EMERITO SAMARCA, 54, married with four children, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV); he was staff member of ALCADEV since its founding and became executive director in 2012. From 1990-1998, he worked with SILDAP-SIDLAKAN, a Lumad support institution in Caraga. He was also staff of the Unyon sa Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte (UMAN) – KMP in the 1980’s.

DIONEL CAMPOS, 41, married, resident of Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, Chairperson, Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU or Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation); He is the cousin of JALANDONI CAMPOS, a Lumad leader who has been falsely charged with criminal offense.

DATU JUVELLO SINZO (earlier reported as Aurello/Bello Sinzo), 69, member of MAPASU and resident of Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Datu Juvello is tribal chieftain of the village of Kiwagan, Bgy. San Isidro, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

About 261 families/1,304 community members and residents of Han-ayan, Km. 16 and 9 other lumad communities in Brgy. Diatagon and Brgy. San Isidro, Lianga, Surigao del Sur; and 304 families /1,354 individuals from three communities in Buhisan, San Agustin; seven communities in two barangays in San Miguel, one community each in Caras-an, Tago and Mahaba, Marihatag, all in Surigao del Sur.  
27 Faculty and staff members of ALCADEV and TRIFPSS (Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur)

Place of incident : ALCADEV compound in Han-ayan and Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur

Date of incident : September 1, 2015 at around 4 a.m.

Perpetrator/s : Elements of the 36th IB-PA under Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Akas (who turned over command to Lt. Col. Randolph Roxas September 1); Elements of the 75th  Infantry Battalion and Special Forces of the Philippine Army; Elements of the paramilitary Magahat/Bagani Forces/Marcos Bocales group identified by eyewitnesses as Bobby Tejero and Loloy Tejero, among 18 others

On August 30, 2015, about 40 soldiers of the 36th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA), the 75th IBPA, AFP 1st Special Forces, and known members of the paramilitary group—who call themselves Magahat-Bagani Force/Marcos Bocales group—occupied the function hall and parts of the school grounds of the Aternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) in Sitio Han-ayan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

It was the day after the commemoration of the school’s Foundation Day. While there were visitors who stayed behind after the event, most of the visitors had already left. Those who stayed behind saw for themselves the soldiers and members of the paramilitary group in the community.

During the military and paramilitary encampment, elements of the 36th IBPA, 75th IBPA, SF, and members of the Bocales group threatened the school’s faculty members, staff, and the community members that they will be massacred, unless they leave in two days. Soldiers also asked community members of the whereabouts of Reynaldo Campos, ALCADEV coordinator; Norma Ampis, TRIFPSS executive director; Dionel Campos, MAPASU Chairperson; and, two other TRIFPSS teachers.

At dawn of September 1, at around 4 a.m., soldiers went from house to house in Han-ayan and in Km. 16 and ordered residents to get out of their houses and to proceed to the basketball in Km. 16. Han-ayan is less than a kilometer from Km. 16’s basketball court.

At the ALCADEV grounds, the soldiers and paramilitary forcefully knocked at the dormitory. The soldiers told the students and staff to come out of the school. One resident, Guideon Galicia, who was about to go up to the second floor of the ALCADEV guest house to get Samarca met a soldier who immediately hit him with the butt of a gun. Samarca saw Galicia and asked the soldiers not to hurt him. He then introduced himself as Executive Director of ALCADEV. The soldiers let go of Galicia and held Samarca instead.

As residents and teachers were leaving Han-ayan, 25 soldiers of the 75th IBPA in full battle gear and three to five members of the paramilitary group, remained in the community.

In Km. 16, the people were ordered to gather at the basketball court. The armed men separated the men from the women and children. The ALCADEV teachers and staff were also told to form their separate group. Bobby and Loloy Tejero of the Magahat/Bagani Force approached Sinzo, who was at the group of men. He was asked to promise that the residents would “go back to the folds of the government” but Sinzo said it is beyond him. The armed men grabbed him and separated him from the group. People saw the armed men beat Sinzo with wood.

Campos and Itallo, who were at the house of Josephine Pagalan, were ordered to sit at a bench near Pagalan’s house. Pagalan is spokesperson of the Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon sa Caraga (Kasalo Caraga or Organization of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in Caraga).

The armed men also confiscated all cellphones and cameras from the residents and ALCADEV staff and remaining visitors in the community.

Some members of the paramilitary group said Itallo was seen in the company of the NPA in the mountains. Itallo, crippled by polio since childhood, reasoned out by showing her feet and saying it is not true because she has difficulty in walking. The armed men ordered Itallo to sit beside Campos while they grabbed Sinzo and separated him from the group.

Campos fell down when armed men whacked him in the neck, but he refused to bow down. He immediately lifted his head and looked at the people around him. Bobby Tejero and brother Loloy Tejero ordered the residents to ‘drop’ and then shot Campos on the head. Some 20 armed men fired indiscriminately in the presence of the people. After the indiscriminate firing, they saw Sinzo also dead, a few meters away from Campos. His arms were broken.

The community members saw the killing. Itallo, who ducked and just kept her eyes closed during the shooting, survived but was temporarily deaf because of the close range firing. The back of Campos’s head was blown off.

Later in the morning, after the killing, the residents went back to their respective houses. The residents of Han-ayan also went back to their community and saw their cooperative store burned down and parts of the TRIFPSS school burning. While others tried to put off the fire at the TRIFPSS school, some teachers went back to ALCADEV campus and found Samarca’s dead body. His throat was slit open, with the cut that ranged almost from ear to ear, his face bruised and almost unrecognizable.

At the time of the incident, most of the elements of the 36th IBPA and Special Forces were in Km. 9.

Since 2005, members of Mapasu and ALCADEV, who are active in the defense of Lumad ancestral lands against incursion by big business, have been victims of red tagging, trumped-up criminal charges, illegal arrests and detention, torture, and forced evacuation.

ALCADEV was established in July 19, 2004 as an alternative learning system especially designed to provide secondary education to indigent indigenous youth—Manobo, Higaonon, Banwaon, Talaandig and Mamanwa – who live in the mountains of Surigao del Norte and Sur, Agusan del Norte and Sur. ALCADEV is born out of the joint efforts of indigenous peoples organizations in CARAGA region. MAPASU is a regional organization of indigenous people in Caraga and is well known for its strong stance against intrusion of mining companies in their communities.

The paramilitary group of Marcos Bocales, called Task Force Gantangan during the Arroyo regime’s Oplan Bantay Laya, may have changed its name into Magahat-Bagani Force. Despite the change in name however, the group continues to be armed and used by the military to sow division and terror among the Manobo-Lumad, using a worn-out trick of divide-and-rule. In 2014 alone, the group, under the auspices of the 36th IB-PA, was responsible for the killing of Henry Alameda and Aldren Dumaguit; the burning of the vehicle of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Surigao del Sur (KAMASS) – KMP; and, the burning of the cooperative store and school in Kabulohan, Brgy. Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur.

Recommended Action:
Send letters, emails or fax messages calling on the BS Aquino government to:

  1. Immediately pull-out the 36th, 75th IB-PA and Special Forces from the Lumad community and dismantle the paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani Force.
  2. Create an independent body to investigate on the killings and other human rights violations perpetrated by the 36th and 75th IB-PA and its paramilitary forces, the Magahat/Bagani Force.
  3. Persecute the perpetrators of the extrajudicial killing and other human rights violations committed against the residents of Han-ayan and Km. 16 in Bgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
  4. To withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which continues to victimize innocent and unarmed civilians.
  5. Remind the Philippine government that it is bound to observe, promote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as it is a signatory to and a party to all the major Human Rights instruments.

We also call on all human rights advocates to extend humanitarian support to the 2,000 evacuees who are now in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.

You may send your communications to:

1. H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph

2. Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
Email: osnd@philonline.com

3. Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice Philippines
Padre Faura St., Manila, Philippines
Direct Line 521-1908
Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.211/214
Fax: (+632) 523-9548
Email:  lmdelima@doj.gov.ph, lmdelima.doj@gmail.com, lmdelima.doj2@gmail.com

4. Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, (+632) 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
E-mail: comsec@chr.gov.ph

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central,
Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org; karapatan@karapatan.org
Website: http://www.karapatan.org

February 10, 2010

Arrest of 43 Another Case of Torture as a State Policy– NYCHRP

NEW YORK– A local human rights advocacy organization denounced the arrest and ongoing maltreatment of the detained 43 health workers in a Philippine military camp as another example of the Philippine military’s routine use of torture in its counter-insurgency campaign known as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL). It called for the immediate and unconditional release of the health workers affiliated with the Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD) who are currently still in detention in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.

“The Arroyo government acts as if it is above International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law,” states Gary Labao of the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP). “Since OBL’s first launch in 2002 and re-launch in 2007, one of its distinctive features is the targeting of unarmed civilians critical of government policies in the name of annihilating armed insurgency in the countryside. The arrest of the 43 health workers, who were conducting a medical training seminar to service of the poor, shows how the Philippine military employs arbitrary arrests, denies legal counsel, and inflicts torture upon civilians, forcing them into ‘admit’ they are armed rebels. This so-called ‘evidence’ gathered by Philippine security forces should not be deemed admissible in any court of law.”

The rights group also recalled the case of Melissa Roxas, a US citizen and community health worker from Los Angeles, whose testimony to the Philippine Supreme Court last year stated that she was abducted, blindfolded, and tortured for six days by captors who were forcing her to admit she was a member of the New Peoples Army (NPA). Though the Philippine Supreme Court denied a petition filed by Roxas to conduct a investigation of Fort Magsaysay, headquarters of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine military and the location where Roxas believes she was detained, it ruled to grant Roxas a writ of amparo (protection) that validated the claim of abduction and torture based on supporting testimony from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and reports from medical examiners.

“What the Arroyo government repeatedly ignores is the mandate of the various covenants on human rights it has ratified which unconditionally entitles armed groups such as the NPA protection from any form of torture or degrading treatment,” Labao added.

In its concluding observations of the Philippine delegation’s presentation during its 42nd session in Geneva last April, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UN CAT) expressed concern over the “routine and widespread use of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody.” The Philippines ratified the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment of Punishment in 1986, the same year that marked the fall of the Marcos dictatorship.

Two international non-governmental organizations (NGO’s)— the International Federation of Actions by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT) and Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) submitted an alternative report on the Philippines to the UN CAT that same year.

“Torture and ill-treatments are often committed [by the Philippine military] in order to extract confessions…and obtain forced testimonies,” the 2009 FIACAT-ACAT report on the Philippines states.

The same report also outlines the practice of “arrests with excessive violence” and “the use of fabricated charges” as a “method to keep targeted persons in unjustifiable detention.”

NYCHRP also warned that the upcoming May 2010 elections are another indication of escalating violence in the country, as demonstrated by the clash of governing warlords competing for a gubernatorial seat in Maguindanao that resulted in the gruesome Ampatuan Massacre last November 23rd.

“OBL and the case of the Morong 43 validates of the UN CAT’s published observations on the Philippines,” Labao added. “But as long as a culture of impunity persists in the Philippines, allowing the perpetrators of arbitrary arrests and torture to roam unaccounted, the international community plays a role in supporting the people’s movement in the Philippines for the advancement and protection of basic human rights and dignity.” ###