Philippines: 11 Tigwahanon individuals illegally arrested

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    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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