By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Indigenous peoples groups condemned the shooting by suspected state forces of two Lumád leaders in Davao City, on Friday, which left one dead and another in critical condition.
The Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu) said that on July 15, at around 2 p.m., motorcycle-riding men fired at Bagobo leaders Hermie Alegre and Danny Diarog in sitio (sub-village) Kagaspan, Tagakpan village, Tugbok District, Davao City. Alegre was dead on arrival at the hospital, while Diarog remains in critical condition.
Alegre, 31, was the president of the Parent-Teacher-Community Association (PTCA) of the Salugpungan school in sitio Kahusayan in Manuel Guianga village, also in Tugbok District. Diarog, 33, is the tribal chieftain of sitio Kahusayan and chairperson of Kahugpungan sa mga Lumád (KSL), a member-organization of the progressive regional group, Pasaka Confederation of Lumád Organization.
The two were attacked as they headed home to sitio Kahusayan after coming from a meeting with officials of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
In a statement texted to Bulatlat, Pasaka suspected the perpetrators to be members of the Philippine Army’s 84th Infantry Battalion and the paramilitary group Alamara.
Katribu and Pasaka condemned the attack, as they called on President Duterte to scrap Oplan Bayanihan, former President Aquino’s counterinsurgency program which remains in effect and to which they attributed the continued human rights violations.
The killing comes at the heels of the arrest warrant issued against 15 Lumád leaders and rights defenders who were charged with kidnapping and illegal detention, allegedly, of the 700 Lumád evacuees from Davao del Norte and Bukidnon.
“The brutality of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continues as it remains an instrument of Oplan Bayanihan,” said the Pasaka statement.
Katribu had documented at least 90 indigenous peoples who were victims of extrajudicial killings during the Aquino administration.
Eight years ago, on April 29, 2008, Diarog’s father, Datu Dominador Diarog was killed when his home was strafed by suspected members of the Task Force Davao, a military unit under the 73rd Infantry Battalion. The killing was reportedly linked to Diarog’s refusal to sell their two-hectare farm, which was adjacent to the prayer mountain of the religious group Jesus Christ: A Name Above Every Name, and was reportedly being bought by the group.
The head of the religious group, Pastor Apollo Quibuloy, is the spiritual adviser and close ally of Duterte. Back in 2008, Quibuloy had called the accusations “false and baseless.” The underground group, Christians for National Liberation condemned Diarog’s killing, calling it a “conspiracy” between Task Force Davao and Quibuloy.
Pasaka, however, cautioned that the killing may be part of a plan to throw a monkey wrench at the cordial relations between Duterte and progressives, or to even sabotage the upcoming peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), set at the end of July.
The Lumád continue to come under attack and fall victims to human rights abuses.
On July 8, 400 Lumád residents of Pichon village, Caraga town in Davao Oriental province left their homes to seek safety at the town center, amid bombings by the military. The air strike was launched by the military, following an armed clash between the 67th IB and the NPA.
Meanwhile, in an urgent alert, the support group Higala sa Lumád Network said that on July 12, three Higaonon peasants were killed by security guards of Ramcar Inc. who strafed their temporary farm shed in Lupiagan village, Sumilao, Bukidnon province. Members of the Sitio Inaisahan Indigenous Peoples Organization were preparing to farm in the contested land which they had claimed as ancestral lands, but had been fenced off as ranch by Ramcar.
Killed were Senon Nacaytuna, Rogen Suminao and Remar Mayantao, who was reportedly slit in the throat by a ranch guard. Three others were wounded, including a 15-year-old girl.
Call for peace and justice
Reiterating their call for justice for victims of human rights violations, Katribu challenged Duterte to scrap Oplan Bayanihan and act on the killings and continued attacks on indigenous peoples communities. At present, some 5,000 Lumad who fled their homes are still in evacuation centers in Davao City and Tandag City in Surigao del Sur after the killings of their leaders and harassment by paramilitary groups and soldiers.
Katribu said that instead of filing trumped-up charges and incarcerating progressive leaders, government should punish the military and paramilitary units which perpetrated massive rights abuses against indigenous peoples.