Several Manobo families have fled their communities in San Miguel town, Surigao del Sur after Army troops allegedly shot and wounded a lumad farmer Friday last week, the latest atrocity made against the indigenous people of Mindanao.
Karapatan, citing a report from its Caraga chapter, said Ama Benjie dela Peña was shot twice by troops of the 36th Infantry Battalion and the 2nd Special Forces in Purok 6 Barobuan in Bo. Caromata.
The 25-year-old father of three was at his farm and then taken to a hospital in the town center by a village councilman.
The next day, on March 12, some 33 families or 172 individuals forcibly evacuated from Purok 6, Barobuan to the barangay proper of Carmata because of military operations by the 2nd Special Forces of the AFP in the province.
The shooting came after EastMinCom’s declaration that the province of Surigao del Sur, the same province where the Sept. 1 Massacre in Lianga happened, will be insurgency-free and ‘ready for further development’ by the year’s end.
Meanwhile in nearby Agusan del Norte, the military declared the province as “conflict-maneagable and ready for further fevelopment” on Monday.
The military’s 4th Infantry Division said that lawless armed groups like the New People’s Army remnants have been sabotaging economic growth in the region. They caused destruction to lives and property by undertaking terroristic activities, and constantly deceived the people to resort to armed violence.
Surigao del Sur is where the worst wave of lumad evacuations happened last year following the Sept. 1 murders in Lianga town of Emerito Samarca, administrator of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, and Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo by the military-backed Magahat militia.
Although the Army has disowned the militia, it has admitted that soldiers were nearby but did nothing when Campos and Sinzo were executed in front of hundreds of residents, including children.
Karapatan said the Liberal Party’s candidate and BS Aquino’s bet Mar Roxas’ promised, ‘itutuloy, palalawakin at ipaglalaban ang daang matuwid’ should serve as a warning to the public that Aquino’s bet “will surely continue his blood-stained legacy.”
The Lianga killings triggered the evacuation of up to 4,000 lumad from five Surigao del Sur towns. More than 2,000 of them remain at the sports center in the provincial capital Tandag, refusing to go home until the government pulls out soldiers and militias from their communities.