Lumad leader arrested after radio interview in Tandag

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 March) – A Lumad leader from Surigao del Sur was arrested last Saturday by police in civilian clothes after coming out of a radio station in Tandag City in Surigao del Sur for an interview, according to the Philippine Information Agency.

Jalandoni Campos, chair of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), was arrested “by virtue of a warrant of arrest for rebellion issued by Executive Judge Alfredo Jalad on May 2, 2011, with no bailbond,” the PIA said.

Campos, 45, is now reportedly detained at the Tandag Police Station.

The Katribu Partylist, of which Campos is a member, said he was arrested by a team policemen led by SPO1 Versatalico Quinones Pacate about 8 p.m. after the tribal leader was interviewed over radio 97.5 SURE FM.

He talked of the programs of Katribu Partylist, human rights violations committed against the Lumads and the continuing destruction of the environment by mining activities, the group said.

Genasque B. Enriquez, regional coordinator and national vice president of Katribu Partylist,  condemned the arrest, saying it was a continuing harassment against the Lumads who continue to oppose militarization and destructive mining in their ancestral lands.

Campos is one of the 37 who were implicated in what Katribu claims to be fabricated criminal and rebellion cases filed by police and the military after a raid of the police station of the municipality of Lianga on April 28, 2011 by the New People’s Army.

The Katribu statement said majority of those charged were old and sickly, some of them Lumads.

Enriquez himself faced murder and multiple murder cases after a separate NPA raid incident in Agusan del Sur sometime in 2011 but he said the “military was put to shame” when his case was dismissed by government prosecutors.

The Lumad leader said the military has been constantly using alleged NPA presence in some areas to justify their continuing combat operations which in reality are intended to repress the Lumad people “who strongly oppose the plunder of natural resources.”

Dr. Naty Castro, secretary general of Karapatan-Caraga, said in a statement that Campos and other MAPASU members were not informed of the complaints filed against them, even though Campos is a well-known leader of one of the biggest people’s organizations in Lianga.

Campos and the MAPASU leaders are active in the campaign against large-scale mining in the Andap Valley complex in Surigao del Sur, which covers the towns of Lianga, San Agustin, San Miguel, Tago and Marihatag.

The same group led the opposition in the combat and civil-military operations in the 22 MAPASU communities in the past that resulted in massive evacuations in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.

The case against Campos and MAPASU, noted Castro, is among the 12 documented cases of  what they claim to be trumped up charges filed against over 80 leaders and members of progressive organizations in the Caraga region.

“We have engaged the local prosecutors’ office and the Department of Justice to address these cases since 2012 but the cases have persisted despite their reassurances to reinvestigate. Moreover, new cases have been filed with the same disregard to proper legal procedure,” lamented Castro. (Vanessa L. Almeda / MindaNews)