International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines
Reference: Media Officer cp#09286920141

August 2, 2018


Karapatan-Caraga condemns the unrelenting persecution committed by the 75th IBPA and Philippine National Police of Lianga against the Surigao del Sur evacuees by filing trumped-up cases against their leaders and support groups. This complaint is a brazen use of the justice system and the laws created to protect civilians, by the military and police to silence the Lumad’s opposition against their abuses. This is meant to cower the Lumad of Surigao del Sur into allowing the plunder of their ancestral lands in the Andap Valley Complex by coal mining companies.

In July 19, 2018, just three days after the evacuation of close to 300 Lumad families with 1,607 individuals from 15 communities of Surigao del Sur, a complaint for violation of RA 9851, Grave Threat and Coercion, was filed at the Provincial Prosecutors Office in Lianga.

The complaint was against 30 individuals most whom are leaders of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU). Included among the accused was a pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) who have been assisting the Lumad evacuees and a member of the media who wrote his name on the military logbook at the incidence command post (ICP) in the barangay gymnasium of Diatagon. Several of the accused have long left the Lumad communities because of threats against their lives and liberty by the 75th IBPA and the Magahat-Bagani.

The PNP-Lianga cited the report of a certain Datu Jumar Bucales and the testimonies of three (3) persons who claimed that they attended the assembly of the MAPASU communities and witnessed the MAPASU leaders of forcing the Lumad to evacuate.

“Datu” Jumar Bucales is none other than Marcos Bocales, self-proclaimed Datu and leader of the military organized and armed Magahat-Bagani paramilitary force. The Magahat-Bagani is accused of brutally killing MAPASU chairperson Dionel Campos and Datu Jovello Sinzo and educator Emerito Samarca in September 1, 2015. Three of its leaders Loloy Tejero, Bobby Tejero and Garito Layno have been charged in court but remains free and Marcos Bocales continue to be used by the 75th IBPA against the Lumad. He, along with 75th IBPA soldiers harassed the evacuees at the Diatagon gymnasium, rabidly attacking MAPASU, the Lumad schools of Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) and the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV).

The three (3) witnesses to the the complaints are not residents of the Lumad communities, thus it was impossible for them to attend MAPASU community consultations.

The Lumad evacuees have time and again, through their organization MAPASU, expressed their opposition against coal mining within their ancestral lands, military encampment and the establishment of military detachment in their communities. They have been courageously exposing and demanding for an end to the human rights violations of the military during their operations. They should be respected and their calls heeded.