1st Special Forces Killed Lumads not NPAs
On Aug. 18, 2015 it was reported that army troopers belonging to the 1st Special Forces battalion killed five individuals whom they presented as members of the revolutionary group – the new people’s army –following a raid at, Brgy. Mendis in the town of Pangantucan Bukidnon province.
However, the killed individuals were not rebels but innocent Lumads and what transpired was not a raid but a massacre.
According to the initial investigation conducted by human rights group Karapatan, the victims Jobert Samia, Hermino Samia, Norman Samia, Emer Somina and Elmer Somina are all members of the Manobo Farmers Association, a local organization of lumad peasants in the area. Two of the victims were minors.
Accordingly, at around 3:30 in the afternoon as the victims were in a farm hut attending to their crops, a volley of fire occurred nearby. The victims, thinking it would be wise to avoid the gunfire and let it subside, chose to stay in their farm hut. A few moments later, several men who presented themselves as army soldiers came into their house and ordered the men to come out. They victims were then fired at by the soldiers killing all five of them. This was all witnessed by a lone survivor – a 15 year old boy who ran as the soldiers began to shoot.
As of this time, human rights groups are conducting a thorough investigation on the events that transpired.
This is not the first time that the soldiers belonging to the 1st Special Forces Battalion were involved in incidents of this kind. A few months back, the same unit was responsible for indiscriminately firing at Lumads who were asserting their rights to the land killing four individuals in an incident which was known as the “Bugna Massacre”. Also, this was the same unit that fired at unarmed birdwatchers at Dalwangan Bukidnon, injuring several foreigners and their local guide.
Kalumbay Northern Mindanao Region and Karapatan-NMR calls for an independent body to conduct a fact finding mission to unearth facts relevant to the incident. Also, we urge the local governments to extend immediate humanitarian assistance to the families of the victims and safeguard the lone survivor who is currently experiencing a trauma because of the incident.
Fr. Christopher Ablon, KARAPATAN-NMR: Mobile – 09168263463