Philippines: Bukidnon Slams Its Doors To Indigenous Peoples


    Indigenous peoples feel insulted after the provincial capitol of Bukidnon closed its doors when indigenous peoples from Dau, San Fernando Bukidnon, national and international participants of International Solidarity Mission (ISM) came to simply present the findings of the Mission with Governor Alex Calingasan on the entry of mining and the unabated violations of the rights of indigenous peopels of Dau, San Fernando, Bukidnon. Beverly Longid, president and nominee of KATRIBU partylist, expressed her disappointment on the incident when a certain Lee S. Libertad and other unidentified capitol personnel suddenly closed the capitol main entrance when they arrived at the provincial capitol. “This is an insult! This is a public building and they are public officers. It is their duty to meet those who have concerns with the local government” Longid stated.

    Simultaneous with the slamming of the doors was the arrival of at least 50 fully armed policemen who immediately positioned themselves in front of the capitol, aside from those taking pictures and roving in the capitol grounds. “With their force and might, why can not they arrest Alde Salusad who killed our indigenous brother Datu Jimmy Liguyon?” Longid asked. On April, the court has issued a warrant of arrest against Alde Salusad, the leader of New Indigenous Peoples Army for Reform (NIPAR) accused of killing Liguyon. Despite the warrant, he remains free with the company of the 8th IBPA.

    She further stated, the police are supposed to serve and protect the people and that includes us – indigenous peoples. This is clear harassment to stop us from voicing our concerns.” The ISM participants were supposed to present the results of a two-day fact finding, medical and psycho-social mission among the Matigsalog and Tigwahaon indigenous peoples who were camping out within the Capitol Grounds of Malaybalay, Bukidnon. Among the violations the mission discovered that two Lumads have been killed this year prior and months after Jimmy Liguyon was killed. Abon and Erning Mantugohan were killed in Slide Dao in San Fernando. Moreover, 153 Lumads which forcibly evacuated from their ancestral land because of continuous threats from members of NIPAR and militarization. NIPAR is a paramilitary force said to be, promining in the area. Incidents of various harassments and intimidation have also been reported.

    It can be recalled that the Matigsalug and Tigwahanons have been opposing mining in their homeland and the reason behind the killing of Jimmy Liguyon. Meanwhile, during the presentation of the findings, Vice Governor Jose Marie Zubiri also pushed for the immediate arrest of Alde Salusad and Benjamin Salusad. Since the perpetrators are still free, Zubiri said “the PNP and the military is doing a mockery of justice.” He suggested that the Lumads should also forward their concerns to the national government, international human rights organizations and to the UN. Zubiri also committed to suport these efforts.

    Aside from the apprehension of the perpetrators, the ISM recommends for the NIPAR to be disbannned and disarmed and for the 8th Infantry Batallion to pullout in San Fernando. Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights also recommends for the cancelation of exploration permit issued to San Cristo mining since it did not undergo proper FPIC process by the Lumads. Samin Ngach, an indigenous Bunong from Cambodia who joined the solidarity mission expressed his concern on how indigenous peoples human rights defenders in San Fernando, Bukidnon who are simply expressing their opposition to the entry of large scale mining in their communities are being threathened, harassed, and being killed.

    Source: RMP-NMR
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