Manobo leader faces murder raps over Lumad killings

MANILA, Philippines – Emerico Samarte was down, his hands tied, when Jojo Acebedo stabbed him twice in his chest.

Samarate, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), screamed from the pain. But Acebedo, a suspected member of a paramilitary group, had a job to do.

Nang makita ni Jojo na buhay pa rin ang lalaki, ginilitan niya ito sa leeg gamit pa rin ang kutsilyo at 'yun ang kinamatay ng lalaki,” read the testimony of one of the paramilitary fighters involved in the gruesome killing of Samarate and two Lumad leaders in September 2015.

(When Jojo saw that the man was still alive, he slit the man’s neck using the same knife. This killed the man.)

It is one of the many jarring narratives in a resolution issued by the justice department on May 23, 2016 – almost 8 months after the attack in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, that sparked outcry nationwide.

Also killed during the attack were Dionel Campus and Juvello Sinzo. Both were shot to death.

In its resolution, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) National Capital Region (NCR) recommended the filing of murder charges against Manobo chieftain Datu Calpito Egua (aka Datu Calpit), Bobby Tejero, Leo Tejero, Margarito Layno, Acebedo, and 32 others over the deaths of Samarate, Campus, and Sinzo.

They also face charges of destructive arson for burning down several structures in Alcadev and the Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sumusunod (Mapasu) Cooperative store. They also face charges for grave coercion and grave threats.

‘Premeditated’ attack

Caraga region police had filed charges of multiple murder, robbery, extorsion, and grave threats against the Tejeroses, Layno, and 20 unknown men. Only the two Tejeroses and Layno took off their bonnets during the attack.

The NBI’s investigation includes charges against 37 for the “premeditated” attack. Its witnesses include former paramilitary fighters who have since turned whistleblowers.

According to the witnesses, it was Calpit who planned the attack and even designated a “main force” that would enter houses and tell people to gather at the basketball court and two “blocking forces” that would prevent people from escaping.

The following are covered by the charges prepared by the NBI:

MAIN FORCE

BLOCKING FORCE (KM 15)

BLOCKING FORCE (ALCADEV)

Attack against suspected NPA?

Calpit is known in the area as the supposed leader of a paramilitary group that targets both confirmed and suspected members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA), according to an investigation led by the NBI.

Mindanao-based MindaNews said in a 2014 report that Calpit “is a holder of a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title and runs a small-scale mining operation in the area.”

In 2014, suspected NPA rebels attacked Calpit’s compound, resulting in the death of at least 13 communist guerillas, 4 armed men, and a soldier. Among those killed included Calpit’s brother and 3 security personnel, including two relatives, according to MindaNews.

Calpit in January surrendered to Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, police over robbery charges. He spent a day in custody before promptly posting P80,000 for bail. The NBI notes that, currently, all suspects remain at large.

The preliminary investigation for the case took place on March 11 and 18, 2016, but none of the accused or their lawyers showed up, despite the issuance of subpoenas. They also failed to file counter-affidavits, according to the NBI. – Rappler.com

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