San Fernando, Bukidnon-Eleven (11) Lumads from the Tigwahanon people were apprehended by members of the 68th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army under the 4th and 8th Infantry Division on June 22, 2017, a month after President Duterte declared Martial Law in Mindanao.
The Lumads were working on the Reforestation Project under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Sitio Alimpulos, Brgy. Cawayan, San Fernando, Bukidnon in the morning of June 22 when the armed soldiers suddenly arrived and positioned themselves in the vicinity. They then cordoned the area and forbade the Lumads from leaving, save for the women, allegedly because they were “searching for someone’: With their hands held behind their backs and fearful for their lives and safety, the Lumads led the soldiers to their homes nearby where the soldiers searched each of them, all without a warrant.
One of the houses searched by the soldiers was that owned by Junty Sedom, a field worker of the DENR and an active member of KASILO(Kaugalingong Sestimang Igpapasindug tu’ Lumadnong Ugpaan), an Indigenous Peoples’ Organization in Bukidnon. After raiding his house, the soldiers brought out a set of live bullets of an M 16 rifle, for which reason Sedom was apprehended for alleged illegal possession of explosives. Sedom swore that he had no knowledge of the said bullets in his home. The soldiers also reported to have recovered 15 units of M16 rifles, allegedly from other homes, resulting to the apprehension often (10) other men. The community, astounded of this outcome, believed that the soldiers planted these bullets to have reason to arrest the men.
While the other ten (10) were later released and turned over to the local police authorities after the community leaders held a dialogue with the AFP. Junty Sedom remains to be detained to this day for illegal possession of explosives.
The Lumads condemn this unjustified intrusion of their homes by the military and deny the orchestrated accusation of illegal possession of explosives against them.
Ultimately, the Lumads denounce the President’s declaration of Martial Law in the whole of Mindanao as this only strengthens the continuing discriminatory and baseless attacks by the military against them, causing grave human rights violations and the incessant forcible evacuation of their communities.
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