Philippines: Indigenous leader killed by paramilitary group in Talacogon, Agusan Sur

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    Just three days before the national election, an indigenous leader from the Talaandig indigenous people is killed by the Bocalas brothers in the remote area of Katigbaw, Talacogon in Agusan del Sur. The victim is Datu Mansulbadan Lalinan, aged 64 and married with nine children.

    On May 6, 2016 at around 2pm, Datu Mansulbadan was draining a small stream – a traditional method of fishing – when Mankolobi Bocalas, with two other men, came across him. They allegedly shot him on the spot using an M16 rifle, carbine and a shotgun. He was hit in the chest and stomach.

    The perpetrators, the Bocalas brothers, run amok and kill with impunity in the indigenous communities of Bukidnon and the boundaries of Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte. The same group was responsible for the death of Jun ‘Obet’ Pabiana and grade three student Jonathan ‘Olaking’ Olinan on September 15, 2015, and of Datu Mankombete Mariano on October 27, also of last year. All the victims were members of the Talaandig community residing in the afore-mentioned tri-boundary.

    The series of killings prompted the evacuations of indigenous families from Balaudo, St. Peters and from Kinuaw, Zamboanguita—both from Malaybalay City—in the last quarter of 2015 up to April 2016. In the strings of evacuation, Datu Mansulbadan, with some other families, opted to stay in the community to attend to the farms and animals left by the community members in exodus.

    Mankolobi, together with his brother, Manlumakad Bocalas, refused to be subjected to the community’s justice system, according to the affected communities. Instead, they affiliated themselves with the Dela Mance paramilitary group that has been terrorizing the municipality of Cabanglasan and the remote barangays of Malaybalay City. The brothers claimed that the individuals they had killed were members of the New People’s Army (NPA). The Dela Mance have also been reported to be now affiliated with Alamara—a large paramilitary organization operating in the remote areas of Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur and Davao del Norte. They have claimed to be part of the anti-insurgency campaign of the government.

    According to his community, Datu Mansulbadan was not a member of the NPA. He had once been the supreme datu before he transferred his position to his son. A datu is the traditional leader of a Lumad community who functions as a political, economic and sometimes spiritual leader. A supreme datu has the role of conferring all datus to deliberate a solution when major problems arise in the community. Although all datus are allowed their own opinions, the supreme datu holds the respect of all the other leaders. During his time as the supreme datu, conflicts and community problems were brought to him, thus his name ‘Mansulbadan’ (which means solver).

    The act of the Bocalas brothers is a high disrespect against their traditions, killing someone of Datu Mansulbadan’s stature. The act is a statement that they are no longer under the traditional system of the indigenous communities, and are beyond the datus’ powers.

    EXPRESS YOUR CONCERN

    to the Philippine Government by writing to:

    H.E. Benigno S. Aquino III
    President of the Republic of the Philippines
    Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
    E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

    Hon. Alfredo Benjamin Sabater Caguioa
    Secretary, Department of Justice
    Email: info@doj.gov.ph; communications@doj.gov.ph

    Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
    Secretary, Department of National Defense
    Voice: +63(2) 911-6193, Fax:+63(2) 911-6213

    Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon

    Chairperson, Commission On Human Rights

    E-mail: chairgascon.chr@gmail.com
    Telefax: 929-0102, 928-5655, 926-6188

    Atty. Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo
    Chairperson, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
    Tel: 373-97-87
    Email: chairpersonsoffice@gmail.com

    Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III
    Chair, Justice and Human Rights Committee
    Philippine Senate
    Trunk Lines: (632) 552-6601 to 70 loc. 5548
    Direct Lines: (632) 822-9758
    Fax No.: (632) 822-9759
    Email: kokopimenteloffice@yahoo.com

    Rep. Guillermo Romarate Jr.
    Chair, Human Rights Committee
    House of Representatives
    Tel: (632) 931-5001; local 7051, 9518974

    Hon. Democrito O. Plaza

    Governor, Province of Agusan del Sur
    Tel. : (085) 343-7144 / 343-7136; 343-3750/ 343-3751
    Fax : (085) 343-7369 / 242-3801
    E-mail: mail@agusandelsur.gov.ph

    Hon. Jesryl E. Masendo
    Mayor, Municipality of Talacogon
    Tel.: 0920-3770716

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