CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

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More indigenous murdered by paramilitaries

HONG KONG (SE): At 12 noon on September 28, the 44-year-old driver of a passenger motorcycle, Lito Abion, was shot dead by two unknown gunmen while waiting for passengers at the rank near Purok Two bus terminal at Dona Flavia, San Luis, Agusan del Sur in the southern Philippines.

Citing documentation from the Higala sa Lumad Network, the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission reports that a red Honda XRM motorcycle carrying two men was parked nearby.

The pillion passenger pulled out a handgun and fired at Abion, who sustained two bullet wounds in his back and another in the nape of his neck. The atackers then sped away.

Abion was a member of the Tagdumahan (Greedy Pig), an organisation in San Luis opposed to mining on the ancestral lands of the Banwaon and Manobo indigenous peoples in Agusan del Sur.

According to a witness, identified only as Jun-jun, the motorcycle was the same one used when Angis Precioso was murdered on December 22 last year. Precioso was the village chieftain and one of the founding members of Tagdumahan.

Precioso had refused to merge the land of the people he represented with the holdings of another group represented by Mario Napungahan, a chieftain who had been pushing for a unified Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title, as he feared this would lead to the destruction of their lands by mining companies, which Napungahan supports.

A former member of the New People’s Army, Napungahan surrendered to the Armed Forces of The Philippines, which then recruited him as a member of the Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit—affiliated with the 26th Infantry Battalion—which carries out operations against indigenous communities.

As a community leader, he used his influence and position to form an armed group known as Rebel Returnees, which functions as an informal auxiliary force of the military, joining the state forces in their operations against indigenous communities.

Napungahan had accused all leaders of the Tagdumahan group, who refused to sign an application to merge the lands of the two groups, of being supporters or members of the outlawed New People’s Army.

The dead motorcycle driver was accused of belonging to the Communist guerilla force in 2005. He then left San Luis, but returned in 2014.

Meanwhile, the Rural Missionaries of The Philippines report that  the Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit tortured and killed 23-year-old Genesis Ambason, a member of Banwaon indigenous people and the secretary general of Tagdumahan, on September 13.

Amason was married and resident of Balit village in Agusan del Sur. A report from Bulatlat.com states that Amason was murdered by seven members of the unit deployed in San Luis.

Artemio Sublidan, Sammy Sina-to, Mama Mapisahan, Macky Lun-
sayan, Hunas Sinatao, Bebot Rocero and a man named Bigot have been identified as the perpetrators of the crime. Three soldiers from the 26th Battalion are reported to have been with them when the murder was committed.

The victim was with four other people on the way to Binikalan village to buy gold. Ambason was said to have been carrying some 18,000 pesos ($3,168) in cash with him.

The unit picked them up when they stopped to rest.

 

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