Rights group Karapatan Caraga reported that three Lumad-Manobo individuals including a 12-year-old student had been killed by the soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 3rd Special Forces Battalion (SFB) last Tuesday, June 15.
The group documented that at around 1pm, the military opened fire on a group of farmers in Sitio Panukmoan, Brgy. Diatagon at Lianga, Surigao del Sur while six farmers were on their way to the community center to buy rice and food supplies to bring back to their farm after harvesting abaca. Sisters Lenie Rivas and 12-year-old Angel Rivas and their cousin Willy Rodriguez were killed, while the three others ran for safety.
The slain 12-year-old Lumad was a student of Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS), while Willy and Lenie were members of Lumad organization Malahutayong Pakigbisong alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU).
Save Our Schools Network said Angel was an honor student of TIRFPSS and transferred to the Department of Education (DepEd) Alternative Learning System during this pandemic.
The military claimed the young Lumad-Manobo individuals to be a “child warrior” of the National People’s Army (NPA). Soldiers also claimed that the slain individuals fired at the soldiers and detonated a bomb.
Ruptured bodies, genitalia of killed minor
Save Our Schools Network said the families were only made aware of the incident at around 10 o’clock in the evening, after soldiers presented to them the lifeless body of Angel, wrapped in plastic and tape. Soldiers said they were pursuing an NPA fighter and a gunfight ensued.
The bodies of Lenie and Willy were found in a different location.
According to reports from the relatives, their loved ones’ faces and torsos were ruptured. The face of the 12-year-old was barely recognizable because of the lacerations, as per the relative. Willy had fractures in his limbs, also wrapped with packaging tape. This raised serious concerns that the bodies were mutilated, including their sex organs.
Angel’s genitalia was also reportedly damaged.
Relatives also said that the military official who faced them, a certain Colonel Aranas, offered to pay all funeral expenses, but the relatives did not accept. The families were also angry at soldiers who stopped them from taking photos of the bodies.
“Nakuha na ang bangkay ng mga minasaker sa Surigao. Basag ang mukha at ang dalawang babae, ang isa ay minor de edad ay posibleng ginahasa muna bago pinaslang dahil sa ‘wasak’ umano ang kanilang maselan na bahagi ng katawan,” said Save our Schools (SOS) Network spokesperson Rius Valle.
[The bodies of those massacred in Surigao have been retrieved. The faces of the two females were cracked, the minor was possibly raped before she was killed because her private parts were torn apart.]
Valle noted that the state forces using the “nanlaban” (fought back) narrative is a worn-out and discredited excuse used by police and military to escape accountability when there are casualties in their operations. Another justification used for such killings was that the victims were members of the NPA.
“This only shows how monstrous and desperate this government is in silencing the Lumad resistance. In this administration, children were not spared in these brutal attacks,” Valle added
The SOS Network along with various rights groups and supporters demanded justice for the massacred Lumad individuals along with the countless human rights violations the military has been perpetuating in the countryside.
Second massacre in Lianga
This is the second massacre in Lianga, Surigao del Sur in the last five years.
On September 2015, a paramilitary group claimed the lives of three Lumad leaders and Lumad school pioneers Datu Dionel “Onell” Campos, Datu Aurello “Bello” Sinzo, and Emerico “Emok” Samarca.
While on January 2019, four years later, two Lumad-Manobo farmers named Randel Gallego and Emel Tejero have also been killed and accused as per being an armed rebel.
Soldiers carried the remains of the three to the military brigade headquarters in St. Christine, Lianga and presented the victims as members of the NPA.
Karapatan said the military troops of the 3rd SFB led by Captain Aranas and the 48th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army have been encamping in the community of Manluy-a for several months and had established a military detachment in Km. 18.
Massacre number 25 under Duterte
According to Karapatan, this latest massacre is the 25th massacre under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the first Philippine president from Mindanao.
Karapatan has documented 25 incidents of massacres under the Duterte administration resulting in the killing of 121 individuals. These happened in Sumilao, Bukidnon; Palayan, Nueva Ecija; Masbate City and Cawayan, Mobo and Mandaon towns, Masbate; San Nicolas, Pangasinan; Gubat and Bulan towns, Sorsogon; Lake Sebu and Polomolok towns, South Cotabato; Siaton, Negros Oriental; Bato and Ragay towns, Camarines Sur; Matalam, Cotabato; Antique; Patikul, Sulu; Baguio City; Polomok, South Cotabato; Kabacan, North Cotabato; Baras, Rizal; Capiz; and, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.