Senate starts lumad probe

THE Senate subcommittee on justice will start on Oct. 1 its hearing on the killings of three lumad leaders in Sitio Han-ayan, Lianga town, and other crimes perpetrated against indigenous people.

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, who will preside over the two-day hearings in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur, said the hearings intend to ferret out the truth behind the heinous acts but will also cover similar incidents that have caused the forcible displacement of lumad in Mindanao.

At present, an estimated 3,000 internally displaced lumads from five municipalities have evacuated to Tandag City fearing the escalation of violence allegedly perpetrated by the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary unit. The communities they left behind have turned into ghost towns

Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development,  Dionel Campos, chairman of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod, and Datu Bello Sinzo were allegedly publicly executed early September by heavily armed men.

Guingona said para-military forces are disciminating against hapless IPs All over Mindanao and not just in Surigao del Sur. He said lumad killings have been documented in Davao del Norte, Cotabato, Bukidnon and Surigao.

Guingona will be joined in the hearings by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, families of the victims, human rights groups, military and justice officials.

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