Philippines: Impunity Reigns In Bukidnon – Indigenous Lumads Displaced

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    Since March, militarization and the killing of their leader Datu Jimmy Liguyon has forced 35 families composing of 130 individuals, 50 or 70% of which are children from Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon to evacuate and seek sanctuary in the grounds of the provincial Capitol in Malaybalay. The victims are Lumads (indigenous peoples of Mindanao) belonging to the Matigsalog.

    An Inter-Faith Solidarity Mission from 17-19 November 2012 organized by the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization, Karapatan Northen Mindanao, Community-Based Health Services and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR) in Malaybalay, Bukidnon confirms various human rights violations against the forced evacuees perpetrated by State security forces particularly the 86th IBPA and the paramilitary under its command – the National Indigenous People’s Army Reform (NIPAR). The Mission documented various incidents against the victims forced evacuees such as threat, harassment and intimidation, and forced surrender as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

    The absence of political will to enforce the rule of law in the province has doubly victimized the above forced evacuees. The Mission confirms that the killer of Datu Jimmy Liguyon remains scot-free. Witnesses have directly identified Aldy “Butchoy” Salusad, the leader of NIPAR as the killer, as the triggerman.

    In April, the court has a warrant of arrest against Aldy “Butchoy” Salusad and other members of NIPAR yet it remains unexecuted with the said killers roaming free in San Fernando, terrorizing the peoples of San Fernando. The 86th IBPA is protecting Salusad and its NIPAR as they serve the bidding of the military in its counter-insurgency operations against the CPP-NPA.

    The local government unit has not acted and remains passive to the plight of the forced evacuees despite months in front of the capitol grounds. There has neither been condemnation on the killing of Datu Jimmy Liguyon and expression of solidarity with the forced evacuees.

    The police remain inutile, ignoring the fact of this standing warrant of arrest against Salusad and his men. They are powerless with the high-power arms of Salusad. They are scared with the collusion and protection of the 86th IBPA to Salusad and NIPAR.

    Ways of Life Destroyed.

    The Matigsalogs largely subsist on swidden farming and hunting and gathering. They also engage in traditional gold panning to augment their agricultural production. Since their displacement, they have not been able to tend to their crops and now live on support provided by CSOs and sympathetic individuals. Reportedly, Salusad and his NIPAR have taken over and now control small scale mining in their community. The town of San Fernando is wholly covered by the exploration permit (EP) of San Cristo Mining for at least 13, 000 hectares. San Cristo is an associate of IndoPhil Mining. The IndoPhil is a partner of SMI-Xtrata in its mining operations in Tampakan, South Cotabato. SMI-Xtrata is an Australian mining company. The said EP covers the ancestral lands of the Matigsalogs. Under law, EP holders are the priority for subsequent mineral agreements for the extraction, development and utilization of minerals in the area covered.

    The presence of NIPAR shall also pave the way and protect large scale mining operations in San Fernando. Participants to the Mission include the KATRIBU Indigenous Peoples Partylist and the Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP).

    Simultaneous to this Mission, is a fact-finding mission in Tampakan, South Cotabato on the massacre of the family of ancestral land defender Daguil Capion. Like the Blaans in Tampakan, the Matigsalogs of San Fernando are opposing the EP of San Cristo and have been clear on their position against any large-scale commercial mining in their ancestral lands.

    The Mission shall present its initial findings tomorrow and shall later submit the documented cases for appropriate action to the Commission on Human Rights and to the GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee of the CARHRIHL.

    Source: KATRIBU Partylist