Early in the morning of Sept. 1, 2015, members of the paramilitary group Magahat – apparently acting with the support of nearby soldiers – murdered three Lumad leaders in their village. The victims included the executive director of the school, Emerito “Emok” Samarca. Local people were told they too would be killed if they didn’t leave the area, so 4,000 of them fled, mostly to an evacuation camp in Tandag City.
This was not a singular attack on indigenous people, or “Lumad” as they refer to themselves. Their community school, the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), had been previously subjected to “killings, torture, forced displacement, and harassment of residents, students, and educators” by paramilitary groups, Human Rights Watch stated shortly after the attack. In November, for example, a satellite school of ALCADEV was burned down by men in military uniforms, destroying an electrical generator, sewing machine, farm tools and seeds. Continue Reading