Press Release
October 2, 2015


GREETED by the rallies from opposing sides, the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights ( Sub Committee to Investigate the Matter Relative to the Lumad Killings) and the Committee on Cultural Communities proceeded on Thursday with a joint public hearing in Tandag City on recent execution of three Lumad leaders by paramilitary elements in Sitio Han-ayan in Liangan town, Surigao del Sur.

The incident triggered the evacuation on 3,000 fearful Lumads to Tandag City's Sport Center, which Sen. Teofisto "TG" Guingona III visited upon arriving Tandag airport shortly before noon in a C130 military aircraft.

"I will help you get the justice and peace that you seek so that you can all go back home," Guingona told a crowd of Lumads that gathered during his brief visit. As they applauded, some raised protest signs saying "Save Our School" and "Stop Militarizing our Communities."

In the jam-packed hearing that followed at the Villa Maria Luisa Hotel, Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny T. Pimentel informed that a state of calamity has prevailed in the province for two weeks running due to evacuation of Lumads. He added that the armed groups responsible for recent killings are yet to be arrested.

"Armed groups responsible for the Lumad killings continue to roam the province, "Pimentel said."How many more people must die before we solve the problem?"

One of the witnesses, a Lumad woman named Imelda Belandres, made her emotionally charged narration before the panel. Almost tearfully, she recounted her fearful experience with her assailants.

The hearing's list of resource persons included Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, Maj. Gen. Richard Lagrana and Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao of AFP's Eastern Mindanao Command, and PNP Supt. Vert Tinio Chavez. They categorically denied any dealings with the armed group nor responsibility over their misdeeds.

PNP Supt. Chavez informed that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Bobby Tejero, Loloy Tejero and Margarito Layno, alleged killers of three Lumad leaders early morning of September 1st. Police authorities have dispatched a special operations team to track down the killers.

Maj. Gen. Lactao however admitted to Sen. Koko Pimentel, Chairman of Senate Committee on Justice who chaired the hearing that he is not aware of intelligence records pertaining to the whereabouts of the bandit group.

Father Glen Acosta, Assistant Parish Priest of Barogo town near Liangan, along with Lumad witnesses, pointed to a camp of armed men in Barangay San Vicente located less than three kilometers away from an Army detachment. Recently, armed group allegedly demanded from the residents that what they give to the New People's Army (NPA) must be given to them, as well.

"The first step to restoring peace in Surigao del Sur is the arrest of the Lumad killers," Guingona said. " This will raise enough confidence for the Lumads to go back home."

Also in attendance during the hearing were DepEd egional officials, directors of National Commission on Indigenous People, the Vice Governor and Mayors of Surigao del Sur, Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar, D.D of the Diocese of Tandag, religious leaderd and witnesses to the Sitio Han-ayan killings.

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