SENATOR Teofisto “TG” Guingona, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation, is pushing for the immediate investigation on the brutal death of three Lumad leaders and the violence that continues to haunt indigenous communities in Surigao del Sur.
In a privilege speech on September 14, Guingona highlighted four points that need to be addressed in order to put a stop to the atrocity of Mahagat Bagani paramilitary, or what he tagged as a “gangster organization.”
First, Guingona raised the lack of military action on the incidents that occurred only a few kilometers from the camp. He further pointed out that the local police have expressed reluctance to get involved in the affairs of the military.
“Clearly, this is not the rule of law; clearly, this is anarchy,” Guingona maintained.
Second, the senator remarked on the plight of affected families who have no one to turn to and may feel a sense of abandonment from their government. To dispel the helplessness prevailing among the Lumads, Guingona urged that the Senate act now and conduct a probe on the case—not within the confines of the institution but at the heart of the incidents in Surigao del Sur.
Furthermore, armed members of the Mahagat Bagani are going house to house to extort from the locals, even extending to the neighboring municipality of Barobo, subsequently claiming dominance on areas once populated by NPAs. In this regard, Guingona questioned the capacity of non-police and non-military entities to carry around high-powered firearms and wreak havoc.
The widespread terror also frightened and drove away Lumads from their homes, making them a significant addition to the number of internally displaced people in the country. According to Guingona, the resulting displacement of Lumads is one of the many cases that cry for the passage of Senate Bill No. 2368, or the Act Protecting the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and Penalizing the Acts of Arbitrary Internal Displacement.
Finally, Guingona calls for joint efforts from the Senate and the military in eliminating such threat and restoring the rule of law.