Killings and harassment attributed to a paramilitary group forced some 3,000 individuals to flee their homes in Barangay Diatagon in Lianga, Surigao del Sur and neighboring areas on Sept. 1, 2015. The group called Magahat/Bagani reportedly killed three Lumad leaders suspected to have supported the New People’s Army, and told the residents to evacuate or they too would be killed.
The evacuees have sought refuge at the provincial sports complex in Tandag City where they are living in cramped conditions and relying on food assistance from the local government and humanitarian agencies.
A month later, some 1,000 people from Barangay Mahaba in Marihatag town also left their homes due to the reported presence of the same paramilitary group. The local government has sheltered them at the town gym.
The evacuees are demanding the disbandment and disarming of the Magahat/Bagani. They say it is the only way they can be assured of safety if they return to their places. They also accuse the military of coddling and arming the group, an allegation that top Army officials have denied.