MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday said it is not the policy of his government to kill innocent lumads, following allegations that the military and some paramilitary groups were involved in the killing of 3 indigenous people (IP).
“There is no campaign to kill anybody in this country. There is a campaign to go after everybody who commits crimes, regardless of who they are,” Aquino told Inquirer editor and journalists during a round table discussion.
“Serving the people does not entail killing any of our citizens.”
The military and a paramilitary group have been accused of being involved in the killings of lumads.
Public outrage over the plight of lumads reached its peak after three IPs, including a school head, were gunned down in Lianga, Surigao del Sur last week.
The fatalities were identified as Emerito Samarca, executive director of lumad school Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development; Manobo leader Dionel Campos; and his cousin Bello Sinzo.
Human rights group Karapatan accused the paramilitary group Mahagat-Bagani forces of being behind the killing. It likewise accused the military of causing the displacement of lumads in Mindanao.
The military has denied the existence of the paramilitary group.
It has also accused several lumads of empathizing with the New People’s Army, saying some facilities harboring lumads, such as the Davao City Haran mission sanctuary of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP), is under the control of leftist groups.