Military encampment forces Manobos to evacuate anew

Evacuees were confronted by the 74th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Military operations by the 75th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army drove more than a thousand Manobo Lumad to evacuate anew in Surigao del Sur Province Monday, July 16.

At least 1,607 Manobos from 11 communities of Barangay Diatagon, Lianga town and three communities from Barangay Buhisan, San Agustin town were forced to evacuate due to the encampment of the 75th IBPA in their communities since June 14, 2018, the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network said in an alert.

Alternative multimedia group The Breakaway Media also reported that the evacuees started their march from their communities at six o’clock in the morning and arrived at Barangay Diatogon’s Gymnasium at two o’clock in the afternoon.

A military checkpoint tried to prevent the evacuees from reaching the national highway as well as media workers from covering the evacuation, SOS said.

More than 1,600 Manobo evacuees fill the road to Barangay Diatagon Monday. (SOS Network photo)

In their fourth forced evacuation under the Rodrigo Duterte government, the Manobos complain of human rights abuses by the military, including sexual harassment of women and teenagers.

Lianga Manobos have also evacuated in July and November last year and January this year due to intensified military operations.

The Lumad also complain of forced recruitment of Manobo men to the military’s Civilian Auxiliary Geographical Unit as well as threats, harassments, and intimidation of Lumad school students in Sitio Simowao in Barangay Diatogon.

Among the evacuees are 568 learners of the Tribal Filipino Program in Surigao del Sur and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, award-winning alternative schools for the indigenous Lumad.

The Save Our Schools Network also said the military threatened to file criminal charges against the Lumad leaders if they pushed through with their evacuation.

The Lumad said heavy military presence at the Andap Valley complex is to pave the way for the extraction of coal from their ancestral domain by mining giants Benguet Corp., Great Wall Mining and Abacus Coal.

Andap Valley is said to hold the biggest bulk of coal reserves in the country.

The Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has yet to issue a statement on the incident. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

More than 1,600 Manobo evacuees fill the road to Barangay Diatagon Monday. (The Breakaway Media photo)

Higaonons to Villanueva: ‘We need land, not money’

By LITO RULONA/Mindanao Gold Star Daily

Cagayan de Oro City–TWO indigenes’ organizations over the weekend lashed out at 4th Infantry Division commander Ronald Villanueva in response to his accusation that Higaonon evacuees from Lagonglong town in Misamis Oriental were paid to camp out at the capitol grounds here.

In a statement, the groups Tagtabulon and  Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization described Maj. Gen. Villanueva’s accusation as  “laughable” and “uninformed, brainless, heartless joke that could only come from their worldview that revolves around monetized appreciation of the world.”

“We do not need money. We need our land,” said Tagtabulon spokesperson Sariza Acosta.

The groups said Villanueva’s accusation that the evacuees were paid reflected the view that everything comes with a price and that anyone can become paid mercenaries.

Gen. R. Villanueva of the 4th IDPA. (Mindanao Gold Star Daily photo)

“Simply because money is their motivation for everything doesn’t mean it is also the same for the Lumad,” reads part of the statement signed by Acosta, Tagtabulon chairman Reynaldo Ayuma and Kalumbay chairman Jomorito Goaynon.

They added: “We have been subsistence farmers, taking only from our territories what we need, nothing in excess, nothing for gain. Our principles are based on our harmonious relationship with our environment. We do not depend on anybody because we are able to provide for our families. That is, when we are in our territories, we are able to freely access our resources.”

They said ancestral land was being taken away from the Higaonons in the hinterlands of Misamis Oriental, and “now they charge us of being paid evacuees.”

Tagtabulon and Kalumbay said they now realize that it has become a futile exercise to challenge the government to understand the Higaonon people’s development framework.

“The framework of the military is their high salaries — the bonuses that the government is giving them, the cash incentives given to them every time they are able to report a ‘surrenderer.’ Because they could not encash anything from our member communities, they are attacking us,” the groups added.

“We do not need money to protect our ancestral domains. It is like being paid to protect our lives, our families. It is highly illogical for us. We do not appreciate their logic of cash. And we do not intend to understand it. Our relationship with the land cannot be bought. Our lands are invaluable to us. Our principles come without a price.”

The two organizations said that if the lives of Higaonons “are so cheap that it can be bought with salaries, do not liken us to you. We have no respect for your kind of ‘defenders.’”

Last week, Villanueva said the indigenes were paid and were being exploited by the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army. #

(This article on Mindanao Gold Star Daily is republished by Kodao with permission.)

Higaonon evacuees face harassments in Cagayan de Oro

[UPDATED] Lumad evacuees encamped at the Misamis Oriental capitol grounds were harassed Wednesday night by men who introduced themselves as Cagayan de Oro City information officers, playing loud music and showing films produced by the military.

In alerts posted online by supporters, two men were seen operating a movie screen while loud music was blasting against the evacuation site apparently aimed at intimidating the evacuees.

A source from Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization told Kodao that when confronted by the leaders of the evacuees, the men said they were personnel of the Cagayan de Oro city information office, which in turn was ordered by the provincial government of Misamis Oriental to set up the movie and sound system.

When Kalumbay inquired with the provincial government, it denied issuing such an order, the source added.

Another source told Kodao the city government has denied they had anything to do with the incident.

The Kalumbay source said that while the two men were setting up their equipment, a woman, who introduced herself as a city government social worker, made the rounds among the evacuees handing out biscuits and juice.

“Upon hindsight, the woman appeared to have been diverting the evacuees’ attention from the two men,” the source said.

The evacuees suspect the woman is a police personnel, having been previously seen during Lumad rallies in the city, the source added.

Subsequent Facebook posts by supporters also said military and police elements have encircled the evacuation site throughout the night.

On Tuesday night, a nine-year old evacuee was abducted and nearly raped by two unidentified men but managed to escape.

The victim’s mother is not interested in filing a report with the police, local newspaper reports said.

Meanwhile, the military has accused the evacuees of being used by so-called anti-government groups for staging the evacuation.

Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division spokesperson 1st Lieutenant Tere Ingente told local reporters the evacuees must go home and not allow themselves to “be used by organizations as propaganda to advance their own self-serving agenda.”

Around 35 Higaonon families has again put up an evacuation center at the capitol grounds after troopers of the 58th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army has occupied their homes in Sitio Camansi, Barangay Banglay, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental.

One hundred and fifty-eight evacuees left their homes last May 26 and first set up camp at Lagonglong town proper last May 29 after days of trekking.

It is the community’s sixth forced evacuation since 2015.

The Higaonons believe that the intensified military operations aim to drive them away from their ancestral lands which cover parts of Mt. Balatukan and facilitate the entry of large-scale mining companies and agribusiness plantations, Lumad organization Katungod earlier said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Higaonons evacuate from military occupation of community

A hundred and fifty-eight Higaonons have again been driven away from their homes by the military in Sitio Camansi, Barangay Banglay, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental, Lumad organization Katungod said.

Thirty-five Higaonon families are now encamped at Lagonglong town center after soldiers of the 58th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army occupied their homes and community, the group said.

Young Higaonon evacuees at Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental. (Katungod photo)

The military has reportedly repeatedly subjected the community to threats, harassment and intimidation, accusing the Higaonons of being  members or supporters of the New People’s


Led by their datu Reynaldo Ayuma, the evacuees were forced to leave their homes on May 26 and walked on foot for days, Katungod in an alert said.

It was the community’s sixth forced evacuation due to military harassments since 2015, Katungod said.

On May 28, trucks from the municipal government of Lagonglong tried to fetch the evacuees but were turned back by the soldiers at a checkpoint in Sitio Ara-ay in Kibanban village.

The next day, Katungod sent vehicles but the soldiers again tried to prevent the victims from proceeding with their evacuation.

The Lumad reportedly told the soldiers that unless they are left alone and the soldiers vacate the homes they occupied, they will proceed with the evacuation.

When the Higaonons arrived at Lagonglong town proper, they were prevented from using the municipal gym as evacuation center as the venue is being prepared for the town fiesta on June 24.

The evacuees have encamped in a covered basketball court in another part of town, Katungod said.

“The Higaonons believe that the intensified military operations aim to drive them away from their ancestral lands which covers parts of Mt. Balatukan and facilitate the entry of large-scale mining companies and agribusiness plantations,” Katungod added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)