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‘Cops keeping lumad in church’

The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan on Sunday accused the Philippine National Police of allegedly violating the rights of lumad protesters camping out at the Baclaran Church in Parañaque City.

“PNP trucks and personnel have prevented the lumad from leaving the church compound, in clear violation of their rights,” Renato Reyes, Bayan secretary-general, said.

On Nov. 13, the lumad protesters staging the Manilakbayan 2015 left Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila and moved to a new campsite at the Baclaran church.

Since then, hundreds of policemen have held the Manilakbayan marchers in virtual detention at the church compound, forming a barricade to prevent them from transferring to another site.

Lumad backers.Leaders of lumad groups and the Catholic Church  hold hands to protest security measures which have blockaded protesting tribespeople inside Baclaran Church in Parañaque City. DANNY PATA
“These fascist impositions are the real embarrassment to the Philippines. The Martial Law tactics shames our country,” Reyes said.

Meanwhile, an Army official has denied the allegation of journalist Inday Espina Varona that the military burned a teacher’s cottage at an award-winning Lumad school in Sibagat, Agusan de Sur last Nov. 12.

“The only persons who can give this information are the perpetrators,” Col. Alexander Macario, commander of 401st Infantry Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division was quoted as saying in an official statement released by 4ID public affairs chief Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez.

Varona, who has also been accused by the military of supporting the communist New People’s Army, could not be reached for comment.

The burned cottage is owned by the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development in Barangay Padiay, a branch of the award-winning school in Han-ayan, Lianga, Surigao del Sur whose administrator, Emerito Samarca, was murdered last Sept. 1, together with Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo.

“The NPA and their allied militant organizations are the ones who greatly benefit from this incident by using it as propaganda against the military. Hence, there is no doubt that they are behind it. They have tried it in Barangay White Kulaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon when they burned houses and tried to blame it on the military but [this] was belied by residents led by Barangay Captain Felipe Cabugnason,” Macario said.

According to Martinez, citing the military’s own witnesses, “the school was already abandoned. This contradicts the statement of Inday Espina Varona that there are 24 students and 10 teachers in the school.” 

Meanwhile, Col. Isidro Purisima, the commander of military’s 402nd Brigade, on Sunday accused NPA rebels of instigating a string of attacks against residents in the area, denying claims by human rights groups that the armed forces are to be blamed for them.

“We are investigating the angle that the NPAs killed the lumad since there were witnesses,” Purisima said.

Topics: Lumad , PNP
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