Philippines: Lumad Community’s Food Confiscated by Military

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    Supplies of a Banwaon community in San Luis, Agusan del Sur were confiscated by members of the 26th IB,  alleging that these were for members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

    On June 26, 2017 at around 3pm, more than 50 military from the 26th IB led by a certain Ading Pascual stopped by Sitio Tambo, a Banwaon tribal community in Barangay Binicalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur. The military halted a motorbike “habal-habal” loaded with 5 sacks of rice, 1 box of school supplies and other goods like powdered milk, sugar, coffee, salt and sardines going to Sitio Kimambukagya ng, Binicalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur. The 5 sacks of rice were owned by different individuals and store owners of Kimambuk­ agyang while the school supplies were for the teachers and students of Urias Kimambukagyang Elementary School as reasoned by Rene Ustos who was tasked by the community members to purchase the goods in the town center of San Luis.

    It is a common practice among Lumad communities to buy their basic commodities in bulk to save transportation cost since transportation is at 2,000 per trip from San Luis to Kimambukagyang. It is a big amount for the Lumad. The military did not believe Ustos and accused the community instead that the rice is for the NPA.

    After the interrogation, the military then called all the adult male residents of Sitio Tambo to gather at the basketball court. They were ordered to carry the rice, school supplies and other goods to the military detachment in Km.41. One resident, Jerry Deque declined to go but was beaten by one of the military in front of his neighbors. Frightened, all of them went along with the military towards the detachment, walking for 2 hours carrying on their backs the rice, school supplies and other goods. Upon arriving at the detachment, they were made to sign in a logbook before they were allowed to go home. All of them were back safely in their homes at 9pm, still frightened.

    On June 27, 2017, Ustos and another community from Kimambukagyang went to the detachment in Km. 41 to retrieve their goods. However, the detachment commander informed them that the 5 sacks of rice, half of the school supplies, and the rest of the goods were no longer there. The military conducting their operation brought it with them early in the morning. Helpless and with no one to turn to, they went back to their community bringing only the half box of school supplies.

    Sitio Tambo is 4 kilometers away from Tabanganan Community Learning Center, a ‘Children of Peace’project beneficiary school managed by RMP-NMR and another NGO, ACCORD Inc, supported by the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection.

    As an effect of the incident, the Lumad communities of Sitio Kimambukagyang, Tambo and Tabanganan were frightened. Parents are afraid to go to their farms, stores were closed and classes were affected.

    For more information, contact us at:

    Higala sa Lumad Network
    Room 01, Kalinaw Lanao Center for Interfaith Resources
    0061 Bougainvilla Puti, Villaverde
    9200 Iligan City, Philippines
    T/F: +63 (63) 223 5179
    Email: info@rmp-nmr.org

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