AFP to help hunt down killers of Surigao Lumad Leaders

Despite widespread allegations that the killers of three farming school leaders in Surigao del Sur belonged to a para-military group identified with the military, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday vowed to help the Philippine National Police (PNP) in hunting down the suspects.

No less than the area commander of the AFP in Northeastern and Northen Mindanao, Maj. Gen. Oscar T. Lactao, reportedly pledged to go after the assailants of Alternative Learning School for Agricultural Livelihood (ALS) executive director Emerito Samarca and another lumad community leader Dionel Campos and his cousin Jovelo Sinzo on a raid in the school early this month.

Cases of multiple murder, arson, robbery, grave threats, and grave coercions have already been filed against the three suspects, who are still at large, and 20 other john does at the Prosecutor’s Office in Lianga town, also this province.

“We are committed to pursue peace and development not only in this province but of the two regions in Mindanao (Regions 13 and 10),” said Lactao.

He also said that he would help the PNP in disbanding alleged armed groups in Surigao del Sur.

The Fourth Infantry Division (4th ID) commander initiated a consultative meeting recently with the provincial government of Surigao del Sur, religious group and Lumad leaders in the province.

Provincial Administrator Efren Rivas Jr., said Gov. Johnny T. Pimentel, Bishop Nerio Odchimar of the Diocese of Tandag, who was also the former president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), have remained steadfast in their commitment to support efforts to disarm and disband armed groups in the province.

The brutal killing incident and other violence allegedly perpetrated by an armed group had triggered the mass evacuation of Lumads and several highland villages from Kilometer 16, Sitio Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, 90 km. south, this city, and other nearby villages in the four other towns in the province on September 1, 2015.

The consultative meeting held at the conference room of the Provincial Governor’s Office here was attended by Bishop Odchimar, other church and Lumad leaders, top Army and police officials and field commanders in the province.

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