Angel Locsin says no to ‘lumad’ killings
DAVAO CITY—Actress Angel Locsin has joined calls to protect indigenous people from harassment and killings.
“When I learned about the brutal killings in the community [in Surigao del Sur], I looked at the photos in that place in 2009. Tatay Emok [Emerito Samarca] and Kuya Dionel [Campos] were smiling in the photo,”
Samarca was the executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) killed by the paramilitary Magahat-Bagani. The same group was also tagged in the killing of “lumad” leaders Dionel Campos and his cousin Datu Bello Sinzo in front of community residents.
More than 3,000 people have fled their homes in Lianga, Marihatag, San Agustin, San Miguel and Tago, and are now staying in a sports complex in Tandag City after the violent rampage reportedly committed by the Magahat-Bagani. Most of the displaced lumad came from Diatagon.
In 2009, Locsin spent two days of “integration” in Alcadev in Sitio Han-ayan, barangay Diatagon, Lianga town, Surigao del Sur province.
She slept in the same room where Samarca was found dead with his hands and feet tied and throat slit.
“It saddens me to think about what happened to them. They only wanted good education and a better life for the children and for future generations,” Locsin said in an e-mail to the Inquirer.
Recalling her trip, she said she found out that children there valued the presence of the school because it offers hope to the community.
“The children were nice, shy, hardworking,” she said.
“I witnessed how they helped each other as a community,” she added. “I felt how they gave importance to the school and the community.”
The actress said she could not imagine the lumad’s difficulties which were caused by the alleged militarization in the area.
She said when she was on her way to Sitio Han-ayan, she had to hide in a pick-up truck as they passed by several military checkpoints even if she was accompanied by the town mayor.
“We learned that even residents there have difficulties entering their communities,” she said.
“Do they still have to ask permission for them to enter their ancestral domain? Why [are] there paramilitary [units]?” she asked.
Locsin took note of the presence of security forces in schools and the risks that they pose to children.
“If the school is considered a sanctuary, why are there military men there… children can be caught in the crossfire,” she added.
Locsin called on the military to stay away from schools and hoped that justice would be served swiftly.
“I am one with the call that the lumad’s culture and rights have to be respected. I believe that schools are centers for education, a sanctuary. The military should not be there,” she said.
“I also call for justice for those killed,” she added.
Locsin recounted that on her last night in Alcadev, she promised the children and the community members that she would share her experience with other people.
“Please help me spread their stories to more people,” she said.
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