In an interview with INQUIRER Multimedia in its “Meet the Inquirer” forum Tuesday afternoon, President Benigno Aquino III vehemently denied that the government is targeting “Lumad” people in Mindanao.
Lumad people are members of an indigenous tribe in southern Philippines.
Aquino said, “There is no campaign to kill anybody in this country. There is a campaign to go after the culprits of these crimes regardless of who they are.”
When asked by netizens about the government’s measures about the violence against indigenous peoples, Aquino said the authorities are working to arrest anyone proven to have inflicted harm on any member of any indigenous group.
Aquino also mentioned that the government has “an adequate record” to show the “successes of people who have long been wanted and have already been apprehended.”
“Serving the people does not entail killing any of our citizens,” Aquino said.
The questions stemmed after reports of violence against Lumads were published.
In Sept 1, Karapatan-Caraga released an official statement saying that a Lumad school director and two others were killed in Lianga, Surigao del Sur after alleged paramilitary elements “opened fire at Dionel Campos and Aurelio Sinzo” at 4:00 am. Meanwhile, in a separate location, Emerito Samarca “was found in one of the school rooms, tied around the neck and extremities, with a stab wound.”
Samarca is the Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), while Dionel Campos is chair of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU). Sinzo is Campos’ cousin.