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PH government, Armed Forces Intenstifying Attacks Against Lumad IPs to Secure Coal Mining in Surigao Province

Please find below a statement from our friends in Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sumusunod (MAPASU or the Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation), a lumad organization in Surigao del Sur, who is helping lead the campaign for justice for the murders of IPCM participant Emerito Samarca, and MAPASU leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo last September 1.  Josephine Pagalan of MAPASU is also a participant of the IPCM.

Over the past few months, militarization has escalated in Mindanao and especially in the CARAGA region, with more military troops being deployed in the provinces of Surigao and Agusan. More lumad have flocked to evacuation centers for fear of their lives as these troops, along with paramilitary thugs, have been harassing their schools and communities.

Late last month, an International Fact-Finding Mission (IFFM) was conducted in Caraga to look into the situation of the schools and communities in the region. The military tried harass and discredit the IFFM by calling the presence of international observers "meddlesome" and by red-baiting some of the foreign participants. This does not belie the fact, however, that up to now the perpetrators of the gruesome September 1 killings have not been arrested, and that the men, women, and children of Lumad communities continue to live in difficult conditions for fear of their safety.

Please help our Lumad friends disseminate this statement, and join their call for justice, the pull out of military troops from their communities, and an end to mining TNC-led aggression and destruction.

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November 11, 2015

The Lumad people of Surigao del Sur strongly condemn the deployment of more military troops to Surigao del Sur. Such action shows utter lack of compassion for us victims of military abuses as we continue to grieve for our dead and suffer in the evacuation center. The 2nd Special Forces Battalion of the AFP has just been transferred from the Visayas to Surigao del Sur and is currently based in San Miguel.  There are now 5 AFP battalions deployed in the 7 municipalities within and surrounding the Andap Valley Complex: the 36th IBPA, 75th IBPA, 7th, 9th and 2nd Special Forces Battalion of the AFP. They are concentrating their military operations in the Lumad and peasant communities located within coal rich Andap Valley Complex.

We have been demanding the pull-out of military troops from our communities and the relief and investigation of commanding officers of military units involved in the massacre of MAPASU chairman Dionel Campos, Kiwagan Datu Juvello Sinzo and ALCADEV executive director Emerito Samarca and the subsequent evacuations to Tandag City of 587 Lumad families with 2,914 individuals from 26 communities in 7 barangays in 5 municipalities of Surigao del Sur. We have been demanding these numerous times in our statements, in interviews and in dialogues with representatives of government and non-government agencies. We told Sec. Mar Roxas, that the military have been killing the Lumad people when he visited us at the evacuation center in Tandag City last September. We asked Sec. Dinky Soliman to help us return safely to our communities when she visited us last October. We continue to shout these demands in the streets of Surigao del Sur all the way to Manila. Thousands have joined us in condemnation of the massacre and the continuing injustice. Still, BS Aquino and his Armed Forces of the Philippines remain unyielding to our cries.

The paramilitary bandit group of Marcos Bocales, Marcial Belandres and Calpet Egua killed Onel, Datu Bello and Sir Emok in Km. 16 and Han-ayan in Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga last September 1. These bandit groups were organized, armed and continued to be used by the 75th IBPA and Special Forces of the AFP in counter-insurgency operations against the NPA. The Hasmin Acebedo paramilitary forces that killed the Tabugol brothers in Brgy. Siagao, San Miguel is supported by the 36th IBPA. The 36th IBPA, 75th IBPA and the 7th and 9th Special Forces of the AFP are all under the command of Col. Isidro Purisima, commanding officer of the 402nd Bde. These facts should have pushed BS Aquino to pull-out the troops involved in the massacre and other grave human rights abuses against the Lumad people. Such brutality should have made the president relieve Col. Isidro Purisima, the brains behind the brutal operations, and other commanding officers of the AFP and have them investigated for their culpability.

Instead of pulling out military troops the BS Aquino government has deployed more military units to Surigao del Sur under the command of Col. Purisima of the 402nd Bde. allegedly to “secure villages, especially the Lumads” from the CPP-NPA. But the truth is clear: the military has not been securing the villages and the Lumad people! The military has organized and armed paramilitary bandit groups that have been killing our leaders and attacking Lumad communities to ensure the entry of coal mining operations in the Andap Valley Complex!

Military COPD and combat operations are attacking communities and leaders of MAPASU as we have been vocal and steadfast in our opposition against large scale mining operations within our ancestral lands.  They are vilifying our Lumad schools and our organizations to rationalize their attacks against our communities.  They have been intensifying their attacks against MAPASU, TIPJUNGAN and other communities with progressive organizations to remove any opposition to coal mining operations in the Andap Valley Complex.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded coal operating contracts (COC) to Great Wall Mining and Power Corp., Benguet Corp., PNOC-Exploration Corp., Ask Mining Corp. and Abacus Coal Exploration and Development Corp. The COCs cover areas within the Andap Valley Complex, specifically in the municipalities of Lianga, San Agustin, Marihatag, Cagwait, Bayabas, Tago, Tandag and San Miguel. Abacus Corp. is set to start coal mining operations in the municipalities of San Miguel, Tago and  Marihatag in Surigao del Sur and has scheduled community consultations this November. The AFP units are there to secure ABACUS Corp. and ensure its mining operations.

Surigao del Sur has been militarized to guarantee the entry of these mining operations within our ancestral lands. Our leaders have been killed, our schools and cooperatives are being burned down, our teachers and organizations are being vilified and our Lumad communities are being attacked because we remain steadfast in defending our ancestral lands from destructive mining operations and protecting it for our next generation.

Pull-out military troops from our Lumad communities!
Immediately arrest and prosecute Bobby Tejero, Loloy Tejero and Garito Layno, perpetrators of the Lianga massacre!
Immediately disband and dis-arm the BOCALES-BELANDRES-EGUA and other paramilitary bandit groups!
Investigate the involvement of Col. Isidro Purisima and other commanding officers involved in the Lianga Massacre and the killing of Henry Alameda and the Tabugol brothers!
Defend our ancestral lands from large scale mining!

#Reference: Josephine Pagalan, cp# 09099293840