Worried church groups in the Philippines have called for "swift justice" for several tribal people killed in Mindanao in recent weeks and for the disbandment of government-sponsored paramilitary groups. "The continuing saga of killings of tribal people is an urgent matter the next administration needs to address," said Sister Famita Somogod of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. A few days before May 9 national elections, members of a paramilitary group in the town of Talacogon, in Agusan del Sur province, allegedly killed tribal leader Datu Mansulbadan Lalinan. The perpetrators claimed Lalinan, 64, was a member of the Communist-led New People's Army because of his strong opposition to local mining activities. According to human rights group Karapatan
, at least 89 tribal people have fallen victim to extrajudicial killings since 2010 when President Benigno Aquino came to power.
"We are saddened by the fact that we have to continuously update these numbers because the killings will not stop," said Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay. On April 27, Romel Talian and his 6-year old son, Edjan Talian, were killed after armed men believed to be soldiers ransacked their home in Talakag, in Bukidnon province. The military denied the assailants were soldiers. Sister Somogod said the attacks on tribal communities were a result of people's opposition to mining activities in the area. "Tribal people who would dare question the intrusion of companies in their ancestral lands are summarily executed," the nun said. Sister Somogod said the first 100 days after the inauguration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on June 30 "will be a critical point for the new administration to prove its sincerity."
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