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Lumad group: Duterte’s ‘Manobo leader’ is fake, crooked

A Lumad alliance warned that President Rodrigo Duterte’s invitation to a paramilitary leader to join the fight against the New People’s Army has dire consequences against indigenous peoples’ communities in Davao.

In a statement, the PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao Region said Mindanao Indigenous People’s Conference for Peace and Development chairperson Joel Unad is only seeking to benefit from the entry of large scale mining in their ancestral lands.

“Joel Unad is a fake tribal leader who claims thousands of hectares through faulty Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADT),” PASAKA said.

The group also accused Unad of leading “his bunch of crooked paramilitary,” which was formed in 2006 under the counter-insurgency program of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Oplan-Bantay Laya 2.

The group said the MIPCPD was formed on the same year that the 10th Infantry Division was established under the supervision of the Eastern Mindanao Command and whose office is located inside Camp Panacan, Davao City.

Duterte thrust Unad into the limelight Monday (November 26) when the President acknowledged the leader’s presence during the inauguration of Davao City’s Bulk Water Supply Project and asking him to join the war against revolutionary forces.

Kita ko si Joel Unad, tribal leader ng Manobo tribe. Buti ‘yan, andito ka. Kasi the earlier we finish this insurgency, the better for us all,” Duterte said.

Kailangan talaga, Joel, Datu Unad, na tapusin natin ang giyera dito. Tumulong na kayo,” he added.

PASAKA, however, said Unad Joel “is nothing but a fake and a full-pledged tribal dealer.”

“Unad, along with his military cohorts, [are] responsible for the relentless attacks against the schools and communities of the Lumads in Davao Region,” the group added.

PASAKA said that Duterte recognizes he could not defeat the revolutionary forces but still pushes for a “futile militaristic plan” with Unad which only exposes the President’s role as “patron of environmental and economic plunderers in IP communities especially in surrounding areas in the Pantaron range.”

“Duterte regime’s real intent is to pave the way to big companies’ intrusion to Lumad’s rich ancestral domain for mining, logging and expansion of trans-national plantations,” PASAKA said.

“Unad, after all, has a long history of being a tribal-dealer (not a leader) bringing and defending the interest of the military and big companies,” the group added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

AFP, PNP enforce another food blockade against Lianga evacuees

The Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are enforcing another food blockade against the Lumad evacuees in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, a human rights group reported.

The 75th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (75th IBPA) as well as the local PNP blocked food aid brought by Church groups at around 11:30 AM, Karapatan Caraga said in an alert Wednesday, July 18.

Troopers have also been deployed around the Barangay Diatagon Gymnasium where the evacuees have stayed since their forced evacuation Monday, the group said.

“We should not tolerate the bakwit (evacuees) so that they will be forced to go back to their community,” the soldiers reportedly told the donors in Cebuano.

The soldiers erected a checkpoint by the national highway leading to Diatagon gym to prevent motorcycles carrying food items bought from the town market passing through the blockade, the group added.

“[The 75th IBPA and the PNP] threaten(ed) to arrest non-Lianga residents who are extending humanitarian support for about 1600 Manobo evacuees [are],” the group said.

The same army unit has also implemented a similar blockade when the Lumad evacuated last January.

The Lumad were forced to evacuate from their communities 33 days after the military put up detachments and encamped at Kilometer 9 of the said barangay.

Tandag Bishop Raul Dael (center, with pectoral cross) visit the Lumad evacuees at Diatagon. (Kasalo Caraga photo)

Bishop visits evacuees

In a separate announcement, Lumad organization Kasalo Caraga said Roman Catholic Bishop Raul Dael as well as nuns of the Diocese of Tandag visited Diatagon Wednesday night to offer support to the evacuees.

Kasalo said the prelate were able to talk to Barangay Diatagon Chairperson Metong and leaders of the local Lumad organization Mapasu during their visit.

The barangay captain admitted he was pressured by the military to sign Barangay Resolution 11-2018 allowing the establishment of a military detachment in Km 9, forcing the Lumad to eventually evacuate, Kasalo said.

The barangay leader promised to review the said resolution, the group added.

Lumad evacuees sleeping in very crowded conditions. (Photo by Chad Booc)

Harassments

Karapatan Caraga said that aside from intimidating the evacuees, the army troopers also harassed the Manobo women, asking “Kinsa ang mga ababe nga pwedeng bayran diri?” (Who are the women that we can buy here?)

The evacuees also complain of lack of water and sanitation facilities at the gym arousing fears of a health crisis.

The Lumad said their resistance to five coal mining contracts in the Andap Valley Complex have made them targets of intense militarization of their communities. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Warrior chieftain hostaged and tricked to surrender, Lumad say

The reported surrender of a legendary tribal leader last June 9 in Talaingod, Davao del Norte was an orchestrated gathering by the military that victimized the ailing and elderly chieftain, Lumad organizations and leaders said.

Lumad organizations Salupongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanugon and PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao Region said Datu Guibang Apoga, who led the Manobo’s successful resistance against logging and mining operations at the Pantaron Mountain Range, did not surrender nor spoke of giving up their struggle to defend their ancestral land.

“In his speech delivered at the assembly, Datu Guibang Apoga spoke of his desire for the Lumad schools to continue to serve his people. Owing to his failing health and increasing age, he spoke of what he perceived as his inadequacies as the tribe’s tribal chieftain,” Salupongan said in a statement.

“Nowhere in his brief discourse did he speak of surrendering his conviction nor did he endorse the demise of his tribe and his people,” the group added.

The 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (IDPA) said Apoga was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) who has defected to the military by turning over his M16 rifle to Brigadier General Ernesto C Torres Jr AFP, Commander of the 1003rd Brigade during the ceremony.

Five hundred Lumads witnessed the event, the military said.

“After more than two decades of being ‘out’ and having been legendary among his circle for his political efforts in supporting the NPA, Datu Gibang is now back to Nasilaban. His surrender would definitely hasten the clearing of areas in and around Talaingod from CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and NPA influence,” the 10th IDPA added.

Pasaka chairperson Kerlan Fanagel, however, said Apoga was lured into attending an assembly of about 150 Lumad only, orchestrated by the paramilitary group Alamara and the military.

Fanagel said Apoga was “hostaged and pressured” by the overwhelming presence of the military.

A downcast Datu Guibang presenting a rifle to a group of euphoric army officers. (Philippine Army photo)

“In his brief speech, Datu Guibang never said mining operations may already be allowed on Pantaron and their Lumad schools should already be closed,” Fanagel told Kodao, quoting Salupongan council officers and members present at the event.

Fanagel said Rural Missionaries of the Philippines paramedics tried to approach Apoga to give him a physical check up but the octogenarian chieftain was constantly surrounded by the military.

Fanagel added that based on the chieftain’s medical history, they suspect Apoga to be suffering from a kidney ailment.

Apoga and other Manobo chieftains in Talaingod launched a pangayaw (a tribal war) in 1993 to prevent logging operations by the Alcantara & Sons (Alsons) corporation.

Apoga and the other datu (chieftain) formed the Salupongan ‘Ta Igkanugon (Unity for the Defense of Ancestral Land) fought off Alsons’s private army and the military with native weapons and old rifles and won.

The government, however, ordered the arrest of Apoga and 25 other datus and have since been hunted by the military, until June 9.

Salupongan said the government has failed to sway its members by deceiving Apoga into attending a tribal assembly that turned into a fake surrender ceremony.

“[The government] has grown desperate in quelling our ranks in the last few months, first by pouring an overwhelming number of state forces in our lands by three Army battalions, second by campaigning for the closure of community schools and harassing community teachers, students and parents, and third by finagling Datu Guibang as a surrendered leader,” Salupongan said.

Apoga (center, third row) looking sullen as a military officer leads a collective reading of an oath. (Philippine Army photo)

Apoga’s fellow Talaingod chieftain, Bai Bibiyaon Ligkayan Bigkay said the military and the paramilitary Alamara used Apoga’s frail health and advanced age into “pressuring” him to a “staged surrender ceremony.”

In a statement, Bibiyaon rallied the Manobo people to remain unfaltering in defending the Pantaron Range, reminding them of their decades of resistance against military operations from Alsa Lumad and Alamara since the 1990s.

“Many more leaders from among our people who continue to suffer from hunger, government neglect and military abuses will rise to continue Salugpongan’s legacy of resistance. Hence, to all the Manobo and lumad people, our resolve must remain unfaltering like the Pantaron on which generations of our people have lived and depended on for generations,” Bibiyaon said.

“We must prevail for as long as the causes of our oppression continue to persist and deny us of the right to live with dignity,” Bibiyaon said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

Group launches book on land grabbing in the Philippines

Campaign and advocacy group Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes (PNFSP) launched a book on the festering injustices on land grabbing in the Philippines in a ceremony in Quezon City last May 17.

PNFSP said the book “Land Grabbing Cases in the Philippines: Greed, Hunger & Resistance” is the first ever book that documented such cases suffered by the peasant and indigenous peoples sectors it serves.

The book looked at how powerful interests affect communities and how their actions translate to hunger and evolve to resistance by the affected communities, PNFSP said. # (Videography by Ivan Dexter Tolentino and Esther Anne Cabrillas / Editing by Jo Maline D. Mamangun) Read more