It came to our attention that there is an International Fact Finding Mission in the area of Surigao del Sur this October 26 until the 30th of October. Accordingly, the activity is supposed to validate, strengthen and amplify the issues regarding the killing of three (3) people at Sitio Han-ayan, Brgy Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur last September 1, 2015 and the forced evacuation of around 3,000 people in parts of four municipalities to the Provincial Sports Complex in Tandag, Surigao del Sur.
We question the motives of this activity. We know for a fact that our government has already made its probe on the issues. The Senate Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation and Senate Committee on justice and Human rights chaired respectively by Senator Teofisto Guingona III and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III have already conducted its inquiry in aid of legislation. Currently, the Nationa Prosecutorial Service-National Bureau of Investigation (NPS-NBI) Task part, he Armed Forces of the Philippines support the Law Enforcement Operations of the Philippine National Police through Joint task Force “Bangkaw” on apprehending the perpetrators. This proves that our government is doing everything to give justice to the victims and bring back the normalcy in Surigao del Sur.
Hence, we question the intent of the International Fact Finding Mission. First, we are questioning the legality of its mandate of investigating. Does this body have the authority for this inquiry? More particularly, do representatives from other countries or international organizations who will take part in this body have sought clearance or gain approval from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
No matter what country the representatives of this mission came from, we are one with you on calling for justice for the victims of this incident. But it must be place on the context of respect for our country’s sovereignty and laws. If this is not respected, then we are now allowing them to disregard our sovereignty, make a mockery of our laws and to disrepute our government institution.
Second, why does this international fact finding mission limits its supposed investigation on the incident in Lianga, particularly the killing of 3 people at Sitio Han-ayan. Why not include the other 357 Lumads who lost their lives on the hand of NPA atrocities. Why did they not include investigating the brutal killing of Mayor Dario Otaza, Datu Cadoy Sulhayan of Imbahandi, nasipit and datu Sandigan of Talaandig Tribe of La Paz, Agusan del Sur, who are also Lumads.
On these grounds, we question the motives of the International Fact Finding Mission.
Nevertheless, we express full sympathy for the evacuees now languishing at the Provincial Sports Stadium at Tandag City. More particularly worried that they are being manipulated and being continually victims of lies and deceit. We believe that they are being used for the wrong reasons. Similar to their aspirations, we want them to return back to their communities and restore the normal life that they had before.
We condemn this underhanded effort of deceiving our people. We call on our people to be discerning. As a people, we should protect our sovereignty. Foreigners should obey our laws and respect our institution.