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School head, 2 lumad leaders killed in Surigao del Sur

Karlos Manlupig
The victims are known for their firm position on ancestral lands and their campaign against human rights violations targeting indigenous peoples

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A school director and two community leaders were killed by a paramilitary group in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, on Tuesday, September 1, according to a human rights group.

Karapatan said that Emerico Samarte, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), was hogtied and stabbed inside a classroom in Barangay Diatagon by the paramilitary group Magahat. His body was found on Tuesday morning. 

He was last seen alive on Monday before armed men torched the structure of a cooperative adjacent to his school.

Alcadev is a privately operated but government-regulated learning institution that provides basic and technical education to lumad or indigenous children in communities rarely reached by government services. 

At around 4 am on Tuesday, the Magahat woke up the entire village and asked Dionel Campus and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo to come out from their houses. 

Both were killed by a hail of bullets in front of the terrified villagers, Karapatan said. 

Campus is a community leader and the chairperson of the indigenous people group Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alansa sa Sumusunod (Mapasu), which is known for its firm position on ancestral lands and its campaign against human rights violations targeting lumads. 

Karapatan alleged that Magahat is a military-backed group formed to hunt down government critics and to lead a low-intensity anti-communist witch-hunt in tribal villages. 

More than 1,000 villagers have fled their homes in the poblacion area of Diatagon. –