There has been no let up in the violations of Human Rights committed against indigenous peoples in Northern Mindanao. Another slain lumad leader and the consequent community evacuation adds to the already long list of rights abuses committed by the army’s 4th ID under Palparan Protégé, Ricardo Visaya.
Since August 10, 2014, more than 30 indigenous Talandig and Manobo families comprising of more than 160 individuals from Sitio Mintakei, Lydia of La Paz town in Agusan del Sur province have fled their homes after being harassed by the elements of the paramilitary group, Bagani Force, and soldiers of the 26th Infantry Battalion. The evacuees, mostly members of local IP organization Pigdiwatahan, are currently in Libon, Lydia. Of the 30 families, 15 are still hiding in the surrounding forests.
On August 1, the organization received a letter from Benhur Mansulunay and Balbino Andaya, both leaders of the Paramilitary Bagani Force, forcing them to sign the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with mining firm Malampay mining company. The paramilitary leaders said that if the leaders of the community refuse to sign the MOA, the Bagani Force will launch a “pangayaw” against the residents of Sitio Mintakei, as well the other Sitios of Libon and Liwangwangan whose residents also rejected the MOA.
‘Pangayaw’ is a traditional armed campaign of indigenous communities to fight their opponents.
Days later, on August 8, five members of the Bagani force were seen roaming around Sitio Mintakei threatening residents of the dire consequences of their refusal to sign the MOA. The paramilitaries even threatened para-teachers of the Literacy Numeracy school of RMP and tagged them as rebel supporters.
Finally, after hearing several gunshots, the entire community evacuated on August 10, 2014. The evacuees testified that hours before they fled, one of their leaders, Datu Roger Alaki, was killed by a member of the Bagani Force whom they identified as Berting Aldo. As of this writing, the corpse of the slain leader has not been retrieved due to the security situation in the area.
Meanwhile, on August 14, 2014, Marcel Labon, a member of Pigyayungaan, a member organization of the regional lumad group Kalumbay, was killed by bonnet-wearing armed men. Labon, a resident of Sitio Olayanon, Brgy. Calabugao, Impasug-ong Bukidnon was shot to death while waiting in front of a store to have his crops milled.
Jomorito Goaynon of Kalumbay has no kind words for the military division. According to him, contrary to military propaganda, the military’s force augmentation in Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions earlier this year has resulted not in the improvement of the peace and development situation but has been wreaking scores of human rights violations, most especially against indigenous peoples.
“Since January, there had been two extra-judicial killings against rural sectors in the region and now a few months after, these happen. We would like to ask the military officers, how many more lumads will Oplan Bayanihan kill before it is terminated?” asks Goaynon.
“Even with the capture of notorious Gen. Jovito Palparan recently, his butcher mentality and his bloody human rights record has been well-entrenched in the AFP’s bureaucracy and is carried on by no less than his protégé, Gen. Ricardo Visaya. The continuing Palparan-like killings and tactics is proof of that.” says Goaynon.
Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, was one of the masterminds of the 151 cases of extra-judicial killings of Indigenous Peoples during Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2.
Jomoroto G. Goaynon
Chairperson, Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization