DAVAO CITY – The military has denied allegations that they have anything to do with the protest action here by a paramilitary group composed of indigenous peoples last Tuesday.

Around 700 Lumads from Compostela Valley province, Talaingod in Davao del Norte province, Paquibato and Marilog here, protested in different government offices, including  the Commission on Human Rights, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and Hall of Justice to oppose the pullout of government troops.  They also called for justice for the lumads allegedly killed by the New Peoples’ Army.

The protesters also held a short rally outside the evacuation camp situated in a church-owned compound here where hundreds of Lumads who are calling for the pull-out of military troops from their communities are sheltered.

Lumad leaders affiliated with  the progressive group said they believe the protesting IPs were members of the paramilitary unit called Alamara, who they say are trained by the Army.

Army’s 10th Infantry Division spokesperson Captain Ryan Batchar said they have no hand on the rally of the IP group.

“We would like to clear that on the part of the 10th Infantry Division we have nothing to do with that rally,” Batchar said in a press conference Wednesday.

Batchar said the group also passed by the Army camp in Panacan.

“They passed by for a short period at the Eastern Mindanao Command, it was really quick. We don’t know where they are now,” said Batchar.

On Tuesday, Jong Monzon, spokesperson of Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations  told Davao Today that they were preparing for the coming of the Alamara after receiving a text message from an evacuee who was able to return to their community.

He said the evacuee was taken by the Army and Alamara members upon returning to their community and overheard that the Alamara will be holding a protest action and will be calling on their relatives to return home.

Hundreds of Lumad evacuees from Bukidnon province, Talaingod and Kapalong in Davao del Norte are still housed inside the United Church of Christ of the Philippines Haran compound.

The evacuees said they will not return to their community unless the government hears their demands to pull out the military from their areas who they say are responsible in closing their schools and arresting civilians.(davaotoday.com)

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