Around 130 illegal settlers observed at Sitio Kalatung

Around 130 illegal settlers 
observed at Sitio Kalatung
Photo by Rojean Grace Patumbon

Around 130 illegal settlers are observed at Sitio Kalatung, Barangay Tawantawan, Baguio District, Davao City, a City Councilor said.

In a media interview with First District Councilor Temujin “Tek” Ocampo on Tuesday morning, October 24, 2023, at the Sangguniang Panlungsod, he revealed that he observed during his excursion in the area that around 130 settlers are living at Sitio Kalatung.

Ocampo added that he was able to meet one of the settlers and at the same time the treasurer of their association. 

The treasurer told Ocampo that they are paying around P100 to P200 monthly dues and that they were asked to pay P9,000 for the survey that will be conducted on their lands to a self-proclaimed datu.   

“Ang una daw gipasalig sa ilaha is two hectares each kada occupant pero tanto pag survey-survey nila nahulog 130 plus hectares. More or less per resident wala kaabot ug usa ka ektarya ilang yuta, nevertheless they paid (First they were promised two hectares for each occupant, but when they conducted the survey, it turned out that the area is only 130 plus hectares. (So) More or less per resident will only get a little less than a hectare, nevertheless they paid),” Ocampo said. 

The settlers then utilized the land and planted crops such as corn, bananas, and other agricultural crops. 

Ocampo emphasized that planting agricultural crops on the land is not allowed because it is a watershed area and that several trees were cut to make room for the houses that are being built.

“For one tree that is being cut that is less water to be produced so mao na atoang gikabalka-an kay ang ubos ato sa Sitio Kalatung, sa ubos ana Tamugan River and to the far north ana kay magsugat ang Tamugan-Panigan so naa didto tanan ang sugdanan sa tubig (For one tree that is being cut that is less water to be produced that so that is what we are worried of, because below Sitio Kalatung is the Tamugan-River and to the far north is where the Tamugan-Panigan meets, so all the water sources start there),” Ocampo said. 

Ocampo emphasized that if we cannot prevent the constant cutting of trees in the area and stop these illegal settlers from encroaching in the area our water supply would be heavily affected. 

He expressed that his team is still consolidating all of the information that they have retrieved on the joint expedition for the committee hearing so that they will get to the root cause of the problem and identify the person responsible. 

“Makipagtambayayung ta sa DENR-Cenro Bangkal kay apil sila sa nag-investigate ana, after ana i-collate nato ang data then after ana mag-invite ta ug people to answer (In coordination with the DENR-Cenro Bangkal, because they also investigated the issue, after that we will collate the data then we will invite people to answer after),” Ocampo said. 

Threat to Bantay Bukid patrollers

Daniel Caramihan-Mellone, one of the Bantay Bukid Patrollers in the area, shared on Friday morning, October 20, that there were instances where they were threatened when they were monitoring the area. 

“Nag control pod me ug balik diri gumikan kay kami mga Bantay Bukid ginainitan (We refrain from coming back here because of the threat that we have been receiving),” Mellone said.

Similarly, Nilda Landim, one of the five female Bantay Bukid members, in a media interview underscored the role of women in maintaining peace in the ancestral domain. 

“So mao tung nagsuod gyud me mga babaye kay ang gusto gyud namo na matabangan sa pagkuan ang mga kalalakin-an. Maprotektahan pod ilang kinabuhi kay og sila lang mga lalaki, walay kalinaw nga magpabilin diri sa ancestral domain kay puro away gyud na kay puro man lalaki (So that is why we women talk over and decided to help the men. We could protect the lives of men because if there are only men, there will be no peace in the ancestral domain for it will be filled with fighting),” Landim said.    

Ocampo said that during a joint expedition last Friday morning, October 20, the team was accompanied by a set of police officers and army personnel due to several reports that some of the settlers at Sitio Kalatung were armed.  

He added that if an individual is rich and can purchase firearms to protect the property that they are claiming.

“Naluoy pod ko sa [I pity the] Bantay Bukid, I cannot really entirely blame them also pero sila man gyud ang frontliner dira [but they are the frontliners there],” Ocampo said.

He added that the Public Safety and Security Office (PSSO) is working on the safety of the Bantay Bukid patrollers and that there were several reported cases of harassment and death threats for them. However, there were no cases of lives lost. 

Meanwhile, Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) Rodolfo M. Mande said in a media interview, that concerning the threats that the Bantay Bukid are receiving from the illegal settlers he is closely coordinating with Ocampo.

“Bisag kinsa tahado gyud, makuyawan gyud, basin unsaon palang sila di ba, so kana ang padayun ang ginalihok karun. Unta dili muabot sa dugoong panghitabo (No matter who you are you will get intimidated because you won’t know what might happen so that is what we are continuing to work on. We hope that it will not end up in a bloody event),” Mande said.  

Illegal settlers 

Ocampo said that he received information that the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Davao had already issued a demolition order, but the problem was it was not yet implemented. He added that once the demolition is conducted the settlers would not be given a relocation area as most of them already have lands. 

Ocampo said that some of them have homes in Matina and Toril and that they only constructed houses at Sitio Kalatung to have extra space for farming and put up a rest house.

On the other hand, Mande said that the tribal leaders in the area, especially those who are involved in the issue are conducting meetings to resolve the issue of encroachment. He expressed that they had talks with the settlers and explained to them that they should not erect structures in the ancestral domains because that is prohibited.

“Kana amoang ginapadayun og pasabot ubay-ubay na ang mga tao na nakasabot pero naa gyud kinahanglan namo na i-push gyud kay na pasabton na ang protected area dili pwede galason, dili pwede puy-an kay kana nalang gyud ang nabilin na protected area (That is why we are continuing to explain and there are a lot of people who understand. However, there are others that need persuasion and make them understand that they are not allowed to cut down trees and they are not allowed to occupy for that is one of the few remaining protected area),” Mande said.

The tribal leaders and government officials plan to conduct a dialogue between the head of the settlers and government representatives on how they will address the encroachment situation in Sitio Kalatung. RGP


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