Zero budget for paramilitary groups urged (Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – Militant group Bayan on Tuesday called on Congress not to allocate a budget for paramilitary groups in light of the cases of killings and displacement of Lumads, an indigenous group in Mindanao.

Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. said that the government militiamen are known to terrorize communities, especially in southern Philippines.

“These groups known as force multipliers in government’s counter-insurgency campaign, have been used to terrorize communities, forcibly recruit people as well as engage in the worst forms of human rights violations,” Reyes said in a statement.

Reyes also called on the government to dismantle such groups, which were created under Executive Order 546.

“It is time for Congress to strike a blow against impunity. It is time to end the funding for these human rights violators,” he said.

Various human rights groups have condemned the extra-judicial killings of Emerito Samarca, executive director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Manobo Lumad leader Dionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo, last September 1 in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur.

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The groups pointed to the members of the Philippine Army and paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani Force as the perpetrators of the killings.