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You are here: Home News Blog Mindanao News Blog Mindanao tribes slams “militarization” on Manobo areas in Surigao

Mindanao tribes slams “militarization” on Manobo areas in Surigao

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by Ben Serrano July 31, 2009 BUTUAN CITY- Indigenous Peoples (IPs) leaders who participated in the recently concluded State of the Indigenous Peoples Address (SIPA) in Cagayan de Oro City criticized alleged “militarization” of Manobo tribal areas in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. They alleged military operations likewise continue to displace the B’laan communities in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat and [...]

by Ben Serrano

July 31, 2009

BUTUAN CITY- Indigenous Peoples (IPs) leaders who participated in the recently concluded State of the Indigenous Peoples Address (SIPA) in Cagayan de Oro City criticized alleged “militarization” of Manobo tribal areas in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

They alleged military operations likewise continue to displace the B’laan communities in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat and the Manobo communities in Lianga, San Agustin and Tago towns, all in Surigao del Sur, tribal leaders claimed.

“The violations of our human rights continue, like killing of our leaders who stood to defend our ancestral lands. The latest lumad leader killed last July 6, this year was our companion,” Capuyan said, referring to Agustin Cumawas, chair of Matalam-Kabacan Lumad Organization (Makalo).

The Indigenous Peoples Rights Monitor has documented 137 cases of killings of IP community members from 2001 to 2009, 13 of which were women (four pregnant) and 19 youths.

The Indigenous People of Mindanao which consist of about one fourth of the island’s total population earlier criticized President Arroyo for not mentioning the plight or condition of the Indigenous People in the country.

“Clearly, the Arroyo administration is not concerned of the IPs condition in this country”, the IP leaders chorused.

As a result, the tribal leaders who gathered in Cagayan de Oro City for three day State of the Indigenous People Address are calling for the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The call came after the President delivered her State of the Nation Address (Sona) last Monday.

The IP leaders said Arroyo failed to address their dire situation.Surigao manobo tribes evacuees made makeshift tents at the Diocese of Tandag Pastoral Center in Tandag, Surigao del Sur

Romel Cardenas de Vera, Legal Rights and Natural Resource Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth (LRC-KsK/FoE) – who is main organizer of SIPA 2009 said that after collectively listening to President Arroyo’s Sona last Monday, tribal leaders joined the other sectors in calling for the “immediate exit” of the latter from Malacañang.

Cardenas de Vera said that lumad participants from all over the island assessed the true state of the IPs after eight years of the Arroyo administration and for them, another year with Arroyo in power would only mean continued discrimination, land grabbing, human rights violations, environmental destruction, corruption and more lies.

In a joint statement from the simultaneous Sipa conferences in Cagayan de Oro and Quezon City , the IP leaders declared: “Eight years is enough. Eight years of her corrupt, self-serving anti-poor administration has brought nothing but suffering to the country, especially the IPs who have borne the brunt of her misguided development priorities. History’s verdict is loud and clear. It is known to all Filipinos except for her most rabid sycophants and most zealous apologists.”

Since the Arroyo administration, it had granted two FTAAs, 199 ISAGs, 277 MPSAs and 41 MPPs, according to LRC-KsK./FoE mining monitoring. In 2008 alone, Arroyo issued 42 ISAG permits, two FTAAs, two MPPs and 14 MPSAs.

These figures are stark in comparison to 96 certificates of ancestral domain titles (CADTs) where only 19 have been registered, Cardenas de Vera said.

“This is far cry from what she (Arroyo) promised the lumads in her first Sona,” he added.

Tribal leaders said that historical injustices against the lumads have not been corrected and even worsened as the government championed corporate interests.

“Discrimination against us remains, even in the way the government identifies its priority projects. Mining, which the government prioritizes, has in fact destroyed our communities,” Quintol Labuayan, IP leader of La Bugal Tribal Association, based in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, said in the dialect.

“She offered our lands to foreign investors,” Marjorie Paulin of Pikhumpongan Dlibon Subanen Inc. lamented.

Lumads participating in the Sipa 2009 said they are also one with other sectors in slamming the Palace-sponsored Charter change as this would not only mean extension of Arroyo’s term but would further prostitute the country’s patrimony to foreign investors.

“We reject moves for Charter change…giving further economic rights to foreign individuals and corporations, such as 100 percent ownership of lands. This would legitimize land grabbing that involves our ancestral lands,” the tribal leaders’ statement reads.

Norma Capuyan of the Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa Cotabato (ASPLC) said: “Even titles like CADT could not guarantee indigenous peoples right to security and self-determination in their territories because the government allows the entry of mining companies in ancestral domains.”

Referring to the Pulangi V Hydro Electric Power Dam Project in Bukidnon, Wilmar Ampuan of Nasavakan Tarigunay’t Bukidnon du’t Kalindaan (Natabuk) said: “If the construction of the dam continues, 40 percent of ancestral lands will be lost. It’s like the government essentially legalized the grabbing of our lands.”

Meanwhile, in Tandag, Surigao del Sur, the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) held emergency meeting at the Provincial Capitol this morning to discuss the evacuation crisis of the Indigenous People in the area. Details of that meeting were not made public as of press time.

This afternoon, officials of the Surigao del Sur Provincial Peace and Order Council chaired by Surigao del Sur Governor Vicente Pimentel, Jr., Diocese of Tandag Bishop Nerio Odchimar who is now CBCP President will hold dialogues with tribal leaders, NGO workers and officials.

Some 1,400 Manobo tribesmen mostly children, women, young adults are now temporarily housed at makeshift tents inside the Diocese of Tandag Pastoral Center after they evacuated their lands in hinterland areas of Lianga, Surigao del Sur for fear of being caught in crossfire.

Sister Lydia Lascano, Diocese of Tandag Social Action Center Director said dwindling food supplies including medicines and clothing is now becoming a problem in the continuing stay of the lumads at the Surigao del Sur capital.

The lumads arrived in Tandag last July 28 morning from Lianga town their first stop of their evacuation. They leave their homes last June 18, July 13 for fear of being caught in the crossfire between military and the New People’s Army.

The military blamed alleged left leaning NGOs of insinuating evacuation while NGO denied such accusations and claimed it was the lumads themselves who decided to leave homes due presence of soldiers in their villages.


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