Philippines: Lumad leader forced to surrender as NPA rebel


    Human Rights Defender Joseph Paborada of Opol, Misamis Oriental in Mindanao, Philippines has been forced by members of the 58th Infantry Battalion to surrender as a member of the communist-led New People’s Army.

    On October 15 this year, military forces went to the house of Paborada in Bagocboc, Opol, and accused him of being a communist rebel. They threatened to jail him if he does not ‘surrender.’

    Paborada has been the chairperson of Pangalasag, an Indigenous Peoples’ Organization of the Higaonon families living in Barangay Bagocboc and surrounding communities in Opol. He took the position after his brother, Gilbert Paborada, who used to lead the organization, was murdered by masked motorcycle riders on October 3, 2012.

    Pangalasag has been engaged in a long battle for the Higaonon families’ rights to their ancestral domain in Opol against the energy company ABERDI. Aside from Gilbert, another community leader, Rolen Langala, was also killed in relation to this conflict. Barangay Councilor Nestor Bahian and his group allegedly stabbed and gunned him down on December 1, 2013 during a public event in the barangay.

    The organization is currently undertaking a collective Bungkalan, a process of preparing land for planting, in an area that is still being controlled by ABERDI. The land has been fenced off by the company and is monitored by their guards. However, on October 28, 2016, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had already passed a resolution suspending the operation of the said company for its failure to secure an Environmental Compliance Certificate. The members of Pangalasag staged the Bungkalan to assert their right over the land. ABERDI, on the other hand, maintains that their suspension of operations is only temporary while they are getting their operations legalized.

    But the Kalumbay Regional Organization asserted that ABERDI’s operation is illegal from the start. The area is a Lumad territory, and it cannot be used without the community’s consent. Kalumbay contends that the families asserting their rights over the land have not—and are not—giving consent. Kalumbay has been helping Pangalasag ever since the organization’s formation in 2011.

    to the Philippine Government by writing to:

    H.E. Rodrigo Roa Duterte
    President, Republic of the Philippines
    New Executive Building
    Malacanang Palace
    Compound JP Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila
    1005 Philippines
    Tel: +6327356201/5641451 to 80

    Hon. Alfredo Benjamin Sabater Caguioa
    Secretary, Department of Justice

    Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
    Chairperson, Commission On Human Rights
    Telefax: 929-0102, 928-5655, 926-6188

    Atty. Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo
    Chairperson, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
    Tel: 373-97-87

    Hon. Yevgeny Emano
    Governor, Province of Misamis Oriental
    Tel: +63 88 272 4585

    Copy furnish your letters to

    For more information, contact us at:

    Higala sa Lumad Network
    Room 01, Kalinaw Lanao Center for Interfaith Resources
    0016 Bougainvilla Puti, Villaverde
    9200 Iligan City, Philippines
    T/F: +63 (63) 223 5179

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