MANILA, Philippines – On her last day at the Department of Justice, Secretary Leila de Lima formed a 16-member fact-finding team to probe the attacks against Lumad in Mindanao.
In Department Order No. 792 issued on Thursday, September 24, De Lima said the probe will cover all transgressions committed against the Lumads particularly in their communities in Davao del Norte, Bukidnon, and Surigao del Sur.
The probe aims to identify, and hold responsible, those behind the attacks, which led to some deaths.
The fact-finding team was given 60 days to submit a final report on its findings and recommendations.
The investigating team is composed of members of the National Prosecution Service (NPS) and the National Bureau of Investigation, with NBI Deputy Director Edmundo Arugay, as overall team head.
The NPS members are Assistant State Prosecutors Arnold Magpantay, Benjamin Samson, Marmarie Satin-Vivas, Mary Jane Sytat, and Rohairah Lao.
The NBI team includes Assistant Regional Director Roel Bolivar; special agent Darwin Camilo Lising and agent Ruel Dugayon; special investigators III Vonbar Lluisma, Jonathan Balite, and Geraldo de Luna; acting Assistant Regional Director Jerry Abiera; special investigator IV Danilo Cabanlet; special agent Ferdinand Balduman; and special investigator III Gabriel Falcon Jr.
The team will review and evaluate official reports and other documentation of the incidents made by government agencies; and non-governmental organizations, people’s organizations, church-based organizations, the IP communities and their organizations, and the Philippine media. (TIMELINE: Attacks on the Lumad of Mindanao)
The team will also undertake clarificatory interviews and investigation of witnesses who have already executed their affidavits; and get statements from other possible witnesses.
De Lima created the team following a memorandum from Malacañang ordering the conduct of a fact-finding investigation.
In an interview with reporters at the 118th anniversary of the DOJ, where she said goodbye to the employees, De Lima said: “We have to determine what is the real state of affairs in the area. Of course it is the military’s mandate to protect the areas they believe are under the influence of rebel groups. Puwede naman justified ‘yung presence nila but pwede ring nasobrahan.”
(“It’s possible that their presence is justified but it’s also possible that it might have been too much.)
Human Rights Watch had said that heads should roll over the attacks against the Lumad. – Rappler.com
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