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PIA Press Release

CHR to police: Arrest fugitives to stop clan wars in Agusan del Sur

Butuan City (1 February) -- The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday said the fugitives from justice, who are still roaming around the remote villages in a town of Agusan del Sur province, must be "arrested and disarmed at all cost" so that peace will reign in some highland villages in Prosperidad town.

CHR panel, led by chairperson Leila De Lima, said that law enforcement agencies, particularly the police must serve warrants of arrests to the Joel Tubay group to stop the tribal war between the two Manobo clans in the area.

"The law enforcement agencies must do their job now. Hintayin pa ba natin na maging maulit ang Maguindanao incident dito?" asked De Lima.

Another member of the panel, CHR Mindanao focal person lawyer Jose Manuel Mamaoag, also made the same statement during the conclusion of the two day public inquiry at downtown hotel and convention center here on extra-legal killings of at least 18 persons.

In the two day marathon hearing, the CHR found that the string of extrajudicial killings that happened last year in Mahulayan area at Barangay La Purisima, in Prosperidad town, Agusan del Sur province victimized mostly indigenous people (IP's) and related it to the rivalries between two warring clans of Manobo tribe- the Tubay group and Ondo Perez group.

The alleged series of killings last year of the family members of Ondo Perez made the latter and his group to abduct 57 civilians on Dec. 10 last year due to alleged unfair treatment on their case. However, the hostages were released unharmed as a result of negotiations made by the provincial crisis committee.

But due to the standing warrant of arrest for murder hurled by the Tubay group last year, Perez was jailed after his surrender, despite of the promise made by the crisis committee that he would not be jailed but only tried by the natives' customary tradition under the IPRA Law.

"The residents, especially lumads in the area are now living in fear on the alleged presence of armed groups who have also standing warrants of arrest. They must be arrested and must be disarmed," said De Lima.

At least 1,000 Manobos' are currently residing in La Purisima.

"Arrest and disarm the remaining armed group in the area" De Lima said.

She urged top police and military commanders in the area who were present during the two marathon inquiry to disarm and arrest the remaining armed group in villages of Prosperidad and nearby areas.

Top provincial officials in the province of Agusan del Sur, led by Vice-Governor Santiago B. Cane, representing Gov. Maria Valentina Plaza, government prosecutors and lawyers, concerned government agencies and media were also present during the public inquiry.

The CHR panel was saddened by the absence of the officials of the National Communities on Indigenous People (NCIP) under Director Atty. Jose Dumagan despite being summoned for their presence during the inquiry.

"NCIP chose to ignore IP's problem causing their conflict," added De Lima.

"We are certain that the string of killings and abduction last Dec. 10 was only a strand in a greater scheme of impunity, criminality and violence gripping Agusan del Sur. We will continue gathering facts," she further said. (muc/PIA-Caraga) [top]

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