Two weeks after the Manilakbayan arrived in Manila, another Lumád leader was killed by a paramilitary group, the Alamara, in Davao del Norte province.
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Hundreds of protesters brought their anger and indignation on the unabated Lumád killings to the “lair of the perpetrators,” the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) general headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, today, Nov.9.
Lumád delegates of the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao led youth and human rights activists from Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog, in condemning President Aquino’s counterinsurgency Oplan Bayanihan, which, they said, continues to carry out extrajudicial killings. There are 294 victims as of Sept. 30.
Holding mock bangkaw (spears), bows and arrows, Lumád datus and leaders “attacked” the images of President Aquino and his top-ranking military officials, and tore them to pieces. The indignation ritual called for “mangadow,” or moving forward in the Lumád struggle for justice.
The protesters said that while government fails to bring perpetrators of killings to justice, it even hails ringleaders and recruiters of paramilitary groups as heroes. Meanwhile, the killings and attacks on Lumád communities continue under Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan, they said.
On their second week in Manila, the Manilakbayan received the bad news that another Lumád leader was killed by a paramilitary group, the Alamara, in Davao del Norte province.
On Nov. 7, at 4 a.m., Datu Manliro Landahay was shot dead at his home in Panga-an community, Palma Gil village, Talaingod. Landahay was a council member of the Salugpungan Ta’tanu Igkanugon, the umbrella organization of 83 Manobo tribes in Talaingod.
Hanimay Suazo, secretary general of the Karapatan Southern Mindanao region said initial reports identified the perpetrators as Donato and Maninggo Salangani, members of the paramilitary group Alamara.
Datu Kailo Bontulan, a Salugpungan leader and a nephew of Landahay, lamented the recent killing, even as many other Lumád tribal leaders continue to be displaced from their homes and their lives threatened by paramilitary groups and soldiers in communities. Bontulan is one of the hundreds of Talaingod residents who evacuated to escape the attacks of soldiers and the Alamara.
Speaking at the program, Bontulan said the Lumád are not cowed by another leader’s death, and vowed to continue the struggle for the ancestral domains, social justice and lasting peace.
‘Who is Dario Otaza?’
On the gates of Camp Aguinaldo along Edsa hang streamers proclaiming, “The AFP supports #stoplumadkillings,” along with a huge image of slain Agusan del Sur mayor Dario Otaza who was meted revolutionary justice by the New People’s Army in October.
“Who is Dario Otaza? What has he done that the AFP is hailing him as a hero?” said Jomorito Goaynon, chairperson of the Lumád group Kalumbay in Northern Mindanao and first nominee of the Sulong Katribu partylist.
“Otaza was the number one recruiter of Lumád paramilitary groups in Agusan del Sur,” Goaynon said. As mayor of Loreto town, Otaza reportedly even encouraged other local government officials to organize tribal paramilitary, like the Task Force Gantangan-Bagani Force.
The Manilakbayan statement said Otaza directly received orders from the military, for the implementation of the National Internal Security Program-indigenous peoples under Oplan Bayanihan.
More than 20 paramilitary groups were formed by the AFP during Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya and up to the Aquino administration, the statement said.
“From Arroyo to Aquino, the policy of recruiting Lumád as paramilitaries was seen to boost entry of investments in Mindanao and even institutionalized it as Investment Defense Forces (IDF),” said Goaynon.
‘Let them eat cake’
AFP men peeked through openings at Gate 3, to take pictures of the protesters. Then, in a feeble attempt to woo the protesters, a military personnel placed 10 small water bottles and packs of sponge cake in the guard house window. This was sneered at by the Lumád, many of whom are evacuees who fled from their homes because of killings and terror operations by soldiers and paramilitary groups.
Goaynon said 60 percent of military forces are deployed in Mindanao, and concentrated in the ancestral, mountain homes of the Lumád.
“The AFP’s simple equation of three out of four members of the New People’s Army (NPA) are Lumád, or that 90 percent of Lumád communities are NPA bases …has given the military and their cohorts the justification to attack Lumád communities and kill their leaders,” Goaynon said.
He said the killing of 58 Lumád under Aquino has pushed the evacuation of 40,000 people in the past five years.
The rallyists proceeded to the other side of Edsa, where they protested at Camp Crame, the national headquarters of the Philippine National Police. With video report by Pom Cahilog Villanueva /Kodao Productions