BY JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Posted 5:01 p.m., May 15, 2008
More than a hundred Lumads from Mangayon, Compostela Valley have fled from their homes because of the military operations conducted by the Philippine Army’s 67th Infantry Battalion in their ancestral territory last May 13, fearing that this may give rise to human rights volations.
The 166 residents who fled are composed of 32 Ata-Matigsalug and four Ata-Manobo families living in Purok 4-B, classified as an indigenous community in this part of the Compostela.
“Among gi-safety ang amonang kinabuhi, labi na ang sa among mga gagmay nga mga bata aron di mi madamay sa gihimong operasyon sa mga sundalo sa among lugar,” (We saved our lives especially our children’s so that we will spared from the operations launched by military soldiers in our place.) said Rey Guimboloy, chairman of the Ata-Matigsalug lumad organization NABOKASA.
“Kaming mga nitibo, namakwit tungod sa kahadlok sa operasyon sa mga sundalo among dapit.” (We natives evacuated out of fear of the military operations near our homes.) He added.
According to PASAKA general secretary, Kerlan Fanagel, there are over 136 Ata-Matigsalug families or 826 individuals who were forcibly displaced from their ancestral territory in Compostela Valley from April 6 to May 13 alone. He adds that the one of the negative effects of militarization on indigenous communities is forcible displacement.
The evacuees are currently staying at the Mangayon town gym. Since their evacuation, Mayor Rey Castillo has given them food assistance. Meanwhile, the victims will continue to lobby at the Compostela Valley Provincial Capitol to demand the pull-out of the military elements in their communities. (Bulatlat.com)