“Wala silang pagrespeto sa akin at sa aking katribu dahil tingin nila sa akin ay walang kakayahan upang mag-pasya. Naging lider ako ng aking katribu dahil alam nila na ako ay may kakayahan na mamuno upang depensahan ang aming lupain. Nagreresolba ako ng problema sa aming komunidad dahil alam nila na mapapadali ang pag-aayos. Alam kong hindi mapagkakatiwalaan ang mga susundo dahil sila ang dahilan ng aming pagbakwit at sila din ang protektor sa mga kompanyang gustong mandambong sa aming mga lupang ninuno.” — Bai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay, Lider Lumad sa Pantaron Mountain Range
The military massacred three Lumad-Manobo in Lianga, Surigao del Sur on Tuesday, June 15, regional human rights group Karapatan-Caraga said.
In an alert, the group said Philippine Army 3rd Special Forces Battalion troopers indiscriminately fired at a group of farmers, killing Willy Rodriquez, Lenie Rivas and Angel Rivas in Sitio Panukmoan, Barangay Diatagon.
Angel was 12 years old and a Grade 6 student of the Lumad school Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur while Willy and Lenie were members of the Lumad organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU).
Karapatan Caraga said the victims and other farmers were harvesting abaca hemp at their farm when killed by government soldiers at about one o’clock in the afternoon.
Relatives told Karapatan Caraga that the group earlier asked permission from the military before going to the farm.
The soldiers reportedly brought the bodies of the three victims to their brigade headquarters at St. Christine, Lianga.
They troopers later claimed the victims were members of the New People’s Army.
Karapatan Caraga said the 3rd SFB, led by a certain Captain Aranas, as well as the 48th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army have encamped in the community of Manluy-a for several months.
They also established a military detachment in a civilian community called Kilometer 18 in the said town.
Tuesday’s incident was the second massacre to have happened in Barangay Diatagon.
In September 1, 2015, Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo of MAPASU, and Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) were killed by Magahat-Bagani men.
The Magahat-Bagani were then under the command of 36th and 75th infantry battalions of the Philippine Army who were also nearby when the first massacre happened.
The killings set off evacuations from Lumad communities, with 3,000 individuals seeking refuge in Tandag City that lasted months.
No charges were filed against the perpetrators of the first Lianga Massacre. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
A Roman Catholic Bishop said the massacre of nine Tumandok tribesfolk in Panay Island is a continuation of the mass killings and arrests in Negros Island since 2018 under operations devised by now Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Debold Sinas and one of his predecessors and now Senator Rogelio “Bato” Dela Rosa.
San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said that the Rizal Day massacre of the Tumandok is similar to the massacre of six and the mass arrest of 26 in the towns Guihulngan, Mabinay, and Sta. Catalina in Negros Oriental in December 2018 as well as the killing of 14 farmers in the island in March 2019.
“We recall with sadness that the ‘one-time, big-time’ SEMPO (Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations) under Oplan Sauron by then-PNP Provincial Regional Office-7 Director Debold Sinas and PNP Chief Rogelio ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa led to violent killings and arrests,” Alminaza said in a statement.
“These operations were carried out mostly during wee hours, and the farmers were shot under unproven claims that they fought it out,” he added.
The Prelate also noted that the killings were part of the police’s service of search and arrest warrants while those arrested were later charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Police and military operatives raided Tumandok tribal communities in Tapaz, Capiz and Calinog in Iloilo last December 30 that resulted in the death of nine who have been previously accused by government agents as New People’s Army members.
Killed were Eliseo Gayas, Jr., Mauro Diaz, Arcelito Katipunan, Mario Aguirre, Roy Giganto, Jomer Vidal, Dalson Catamin, Reynaldo Katipunan and Rolando Diaz, Sr. who campaigned for the return of their ancestral land by the military and opposed the construction of the Jalaur Mega-Dam project.
Some of the victims were elderly while four of them were elected local government officials.
Sixteen were also arrested, including minors.
However, both Oplan Sauron and SEMPO “failed to bring lasting peace and instead bred a culture of even more violence and disrespect for our people,” Alminaza said.
“Under the (Rodrigo) Duterte administration and Oplan Sauron alone, there are now over 106 cases of unsolved extrajudicial killings recorded in Negros island,” he added.
Alminaza said he is alarmed the killings in Capiz demonstrate how Oplan Sauron and SEMPO will be implemented throughout the country.
“To President Duterte and PNP Chief Sinas: Serve the God of Peace; Stop Sauron, the Lord of Evil!” the Bishop said.
Earlier, the Capiz Archdiocese Social Action Center (CASAC) expressed sadness that some of the victims were farmers and members of the indigenous people’s tribe while some are still missing and their families grieving.
“[T]his incident raises our concern and thus, vehemently condemn this act of violence. In this time of calmness, there should be no room for the cultivation of fear and impunity,” CASAC said.
The Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) in Panay and Guimaras islands likewise condemned the Capiz massacre and blamed Sinas and President Duterte for the carnage.
“The brazen extra-judicial killings and illegal arrests of leaders of the Tumandok…is part of the nationwide implementation of PNP Chief Sinas’ version of ‘political tokhang,’ his brainchild SEMPO,” PCPR said.
The faith-based group also blamed the SEMPO for the assassinations of Bayan Muna Iloilo City Coordinator Jose Reynaldo “Jory” Porquia and Federation of Ilonggo Farmers leader John Farochilin in April 2020. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
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)
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.
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.
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)
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.
“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’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)
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