‘Lumad’ killings in MisOr continue unabated

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

UNRESOLVED arbitrary murders and human rights violations continue to haunt the Indigenous Peoples (IP) in the hinterland area of Opol town, Cagayan de Oro after another killing on December 2.

Rolen Langala, a member of IP group Pangalasag, succumbed to multiple stab and gunshot wounds leading to his untimely death.

Based on the facts gathered by human rights group Karapatan-Northern Mindanao (Karapatan-NMR), Langala and Ruel Tagupa came from a disco for the upcoming fiesta of Barangay Bagocboc in Opol when the incident occurred.

Karapatan-NMR said the two were about to go home when village councilors Nestor Bahian and Ramil Salvan confronted and blocked them near the stage.

Tagupa, who survived and became the witness against the suspects, told Karapatan-NMR that Bahian who is intoxicated confronted them and said: “Unsa inyong problema? isog mo? (What is the problem? Are you tough?)”

Langala then replied: “We don’t have any problem, but we will retaliate if people will hurt us first.”

A few minutes after the confrontation, Tagupa said he saw Bahian taking a few steps backward and pulled out his caliber .45 pistol.

Sensing the imminent danger, Tagupa bawled at Langala to escape for safety.

“That was when we got separated,” said Tagupa referring to the moment where he shouted at Langala to run.

Karapatan-NMR said Tagupa heard a volley of gunshots and screams of terror from the appalled onlookers.

When the bursts of shooting halted, Tagupa, who was concerned about Langala’s safety, peeked through the cyclone wire fence of the basketball court.

“Rolen was drenched with his own blood. He was on the ground when Bahian shot him several times at point blank. Councilor Eugene Papin using his caliber .45 pistol did the same,” Tagupa told Karapatan-NMR.

Papin and Bahian escaped the area after the shooting using a motorcycle to the house of councilor Seselyo Abuhan and village chairman Abuhan.

Karapatan-NMR said that multiple gunshots were heard as the suspects left the village.

Human Rights violations

In a press statement, Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization (Kalumbay) said in October 2012, Gilbert Paborada, a leader of Pangalasag was murdered in Barangay Puntod in Cagayan de Oro. Today, his relatives and friends are still seeking for justice.

Paborada was asserting IP’s rights over the land claimed by A. Brown that has been developed into a palm plantation.

“One of the guards threatened Paborada that he will be shot if the farmers do not leave,” Kalumbay said.

The house of Victoria Tabubo was allegedly burned down by A. Brown security guards sometime in November 2011.

Still in 2011, Amadeo Payla, 66 years old, was held at gunpoint while plantation laborers and armed security guards of A. Brown reportedly uprooted and destroyed his crops. Village councilor Jimiterio Sharot was alleged as among the perpetrators.

“Sharot is the principal manpower provider of A. Brown,” said Kalumbay.

Around 20 armed security guards destroyed Leoncito Mabao’s crops, while the others were holding him at gunpoint.

In a report published in this paper on June 5, 2013, the DENR said Paborada and his group entered the Paras property thinking it will be awarded to them by the government considering that the owner already waived its rights on the land in favor to A. Brown Company Inc. (ABCI) and tribal’s group People’s Organization (PO).

But during the investigation, it was found out that Paborada will not qualify to own a land because under the Community Based Forest Management Agreement, beneficiaries should have tilled five hectares of land and must have occupied it for at least five years.

‘Open secret’

Based on a press statement by Kalumbay, it has been an “open secret” to the residents of “Bagocboc and nearby villages that the place is controlled by a gang of armed untouchables controlling the area.”

“The same warlord group is said to help facilitate the entry of mining and palm oil plantations like that of A. Brown Company in the area,” Kalumbay said.

Goaynon said local village officials bolstered to commit human rights abuses to suppress the legitimate demands of the IP in the area, because of the economic interest of mining and palm oil firms.

On June 4, 2012, after a thorough investigation, the Provincial Board (PB) of Misamis Oriental said that there were no land grabbing, human rights violation and pollution issues in Opol town.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 10, 2013.

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