Subject: [NatMin-MediaReleases] Advisory: Action condemning massacre of nine Tumandok IPs to be held tomorrow at the CHR
December 30, 2020
An action condemning the yesterday’s massacre of nine Tumandok IPs will be held tomorrow, Dec. 31, 10am at the Commission on Human Rights, QC.
Synchronized Enhanced Management Police Operations (SEMPO) and the 12th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army roused sleeping villagers of Tapaz, Capiz with warrants from a distant NCR court. As of this writing, nine have been confirmed killed, among them two active leaders of the indigenous people’s organization TUMANDUK. Three are reported missing, including another TUMANDUK chair. Seventeen more indigenous citizens were arrested, including some senior citizens.
Media Liaison: Aya SANTOS, 09157814650
IP tumandok.jpgPress Release:
December 30, 2020
At least 9 Tumandok killed by state forces; 3 missing, 17 arrested
A series of Tokhang-style killings rocked a Tumandok village in Brgy. Tapaz, Capiz at around 4:00 this morning.
As if rushing to meet a year-end quota, Synchronized Enhanced Management Police Operations (SEMPO) and the 12th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army roused sleeping villagers with warrants from a distant NCR court. As of this writing, nine have been confirmed killed, among them two active leaders of the indigenous people’s organization TUMANDUK. Three are reported missing, including another TUMANDUK chair. Seventeen more indigenous citizens were arrested, including some senior citizens.
We mourn TUMANDUK leaders Eliseo Gayas Jr. and Roy Giganto, as well as Mauro Diaz, Reynaldo Katipunan, Arcelito Katipunan Sr., Mario Aguirre, Dalson Catamin, and one more unnamed victim. We demand that state forces surface the missing, including Raul Catamin and former TUMANDUK chair Marevic Aguirre, who was last seen being abducted via military helicopter. We call for the release of all those illegally arrested.
Beyond their organization, many of the victims are also local government servants. Giganto, Mario Aguirre, and Reynaldo Katipunan are incumbent barangay councilors, Catamin former punong barangay, and Marevic Aguirre a municipal employee.
The Tumandok have been actively opposing the occupation of their ancestral lands by the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. They are also at the forefront of opposition to the Jalaur Megadam project, which will greatly affect the ecology of the area.
Among those arrested is Luisito Bautista Sr., a barangay councilor who was red-tagged and reportedly summoned by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to an army camp last month.
TUMANDUK has been the target of relentless red-tagging and harassment by the NTF-ELCAC. In his dubious exposés, former activist turned drug personality and NTF-ELCAC star witness Jeffrey Celiz alleged that TUMANDUK is a front of the Communist Party of the Philippines. We are gravely aware that under the Duterte administration, such red-tagging has been a pretext for murder.
This bloody SEMPO modus operandi was first seen in nearby Central Visayas in 2018, the brainchild of then PNP Regional Director Debold Sinas. Despite the unsolved killings and his many subsequent quarantine violations, Sinas has since been promoted by President Duterte to head the whole Philippine National Police—a clear sign of complicity, approval, and reward for this deadly strategy. Indeed, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s “IP-centric” and “Whole-Of-Nation Approach” to counter-insurgency, in tandem with PNP’s Oplan Tokhang, has been used to silence activists and organizations who rise against government abuses.
Sandugo-Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination strongly condemns this gruesome massacre of our indigenous Tumandok compatriots. Activists like them constantly brave the shadow of death in order to defend our land, environment, and basic rights. Those who call them terrorists—Duterte and his allies, the police, and the military—are the very ones who steal, abuse, and kill with impunity. They are the ones who sow fear and imperil the safety of our countrymen. These hypocrites are the real terrorists. #