LUMAD DEATHS PROBED

Inquirer Libre - Davao - - PANGUNAHING PAHINA -

KORONADAL CITY— Five foreign activists, who joined a group investigating last year’s deaths of seven “lumad” (indigenous peoples) in South Cotabato province, were stopped at a government checkpoint in Tupi town and briefly held for questioning on Thursday.

Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said the foreigners—Julie Jamora, Dinah Anderson, Jamy Drapeza, Adam Shaw and Tawanda Chandiwana, three of them members of Gabriela Network USA Chapter—and their companions from local groups were on board a truck when they were stopped by policemen at 8 a.m.

CLASH

Fuentes said the group came from the town of Lake Sebu to look into the Dec. 3 killing of lumad tribal chieftain Victor Dayan and six others.

The military earlier said the seven lumad died after government soldiers clashed with a group of New People’s Army rebels. The human rights group Karapatan, however, said the lumad, whowere in their farm to harvest their crops, were unarmed.

Shaw, a missionary of the Methodist Church, however, said Insp. Rey Gatera, who was at the checkpoint, had told them that martial law had been imposed in Mindanao.

“And now, you [went] to a critical area despite warning [from soldiers and policemen] ... the only thing that can clear you is your ID (identification cards),” Shaw quoted Gatera as saying.

RELEASED

Fuentes said the foreigners were released after their papers were verified by Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials.

“Some of them were not able to present identification cards and passports so they were taken to the Department of Foreign Affairs and the BI [offices in General Santos City],” Fuentes said. Jerome Aba, spokesperson for the Moro group Suara Bangsamoro, said: “[They] are among the delegates invited by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines investigating the impact of [President] Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao.

[They] went to Lake Sebu to probe the massacre of Dulangan Manobos ... who defended their ancestral land.”

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