Philippines: Blue Guards harass TINDOGA members once more

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    Judy Batyag was attending to her family’s small farm in Barangay Botong, Quezon, Bukidnon when 12 Blue Guards fired their guns at her at around 8:00 in the morning of June 9, 2016.

    She ran to the home of Bae Jocelyn Agdahan, a fellow Manobo. Upon hearing what just happened, Agdahan elayed the information to the rest of the community so that they can stand post and guard their farmlands against the imminent invasion of the Blue Guards. Agdahan then proceeded to the nearest police station and reported the matter to the police.

    Batyag and Agdahan are both members of the TINDOGA, a Lumad organization that has been fighting for their to ancestral domain against the usurpation of a previous ranch-owner, Pablo ‘Poling’ Lorenzo, in the area. For a long time, they had been trying to reclaim the land, which had been loaned by their ancestor to the Montalvan ranch.

    The TINDOGA members were finally able to get their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) and were installed in the land in 2015 together with some other families outside the organization. However, they are intermittently harassed by Lorenzo’s Blue Guards. In March last year, Mabini ‘Tata’ Beato, a member of TINDOGA died after the guards shot at them[i] while they were working on their farms. Until now, they have not attained justice for the incident.

    Since the death of Beato, the harassments have lessened but have not ceased[ii]. In the May 2016 elections, Pablo Lorenzo won as Quezon’s Vice-Mayor. Lorenzo has been petitioning the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the re-lease of the lands to the Montalvan Ranch allegedly to put up a pineapple plantation.

    Co-owners of the CADT who were not members of TINDOGA had already agreed to leaseback their lands to Lorenzo. TINDOGA families, however, insist on maintaining the lands for their farms, most of the produce for their own families’ consumption.

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    [i] http://www.rmp-nmr.org/articles/2015/05/14/killed-harassed-charged-never-ending-saga-tindoga-community

    [ii] http://www.rmp-nmr.org/articles/2015/06/18/tindoga-members-attacked-anew

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