IP Groups Want Arroyo in Jail


MANILA – Indigenous peoples would like to see former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo behind bars for human rights violations and plunder during her nine-year reign, said the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp or Associations of Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines). Kamp is a group of ten regional indigenous peoples’ formations across the country.

“Arroyo should be held accountable for crimes her administration has committed against indigenous peoples,” Joan Jaime, Kamp national coordinator said in an interview.

Jaime said some 136 indigenous peoples’ leaders and activists were summarily executed by Arroyo’s henchmen. He cited cases, too, of bombings and mass evacuations of several IP communities that have been subjected to military rule in various stages, with government troops occupying public buildings as day-care centers, multi-purpose halls, public school houses and even private homes.

“These military encroachments into the villages have forced thousands of families to evacuate since 2001, when GMA took power,” Jaime said. She cited the incidence of mass evacuations especially in Mindanao.

Manobo communities in Surigao del Sur and Atta-Manobo community in Davao del Norte are among the worst cases where repeated human rights violations were inflicted on the indigenous population since 2001.

James Balao, an Ibaloi from Benguet, remains missing, while Markus Bangit, of Kalinga in the Cordillera region, was among those killed. Dr. Chandu Claver and his family cannot return to Kalinga for fear for their lives after the ambush that killed his wife.

Last year three leaders of indigenous peoples’ organizations in Northern Mindanao were murdered in less than 80 days. The victims were Datu Mampaagi Belayong of the Higaonon tribe, Datu Aladino Badbaran of the Banwaon family and Datu Alvie Binungkasan, another Higaonon from Misamis Oriental.

Kamp said Arroyo is also guilty of plunder for the alleged sellout of prime lands inside ancestral domains of indigenous peoples.

“Regions where human rights violations are high are the same regions where the priority projects of the outgoing administration were concentrated,” said Jaime, adding that 43 of 62 mining projects are located in indigenous peoples’ territories.

Also threatening indigenous villages are three huge dam projects on the pipeline, such as the Pulangi V in Bukidnon, Agus dam in Lanao del Sur and Laiban dam in Rizal.

Hedcor’s Tudaya hydro-power plant in Davao del Sur was built during the Arroyo administration. It inundated the ancestral domain of the Tagabawa and Bagobo tribes.

Some 30,000 hectares of the B’laan tribe in Sanggani and General Santos were being devoted to a jathropa plantation.

“It is but fitting to hold Gloria accountable,” said Jaime. (Bulatlat.com)

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