Armed Vigilantes Force Lumads to Live in Fear
UN recommendation on
paramilitary groups’ pull-out in Davao ignored
Alamara, a band of Lumads recruited by the AFP, has been reportedly terrorizing
the hinterland villages of Davao del Norte, harming and displacing civilians.
The Lumads, tired of the violence, are calling for nothing less than the
disbandment of the vigilante group.
Bulatlat.com Mindanao Bureau
CITY -- War-weary and hungry, Ata-Manobos in the hinterlands of Talaingod, Davao
del Norte, are crying "enough" of terror as the vigilante group
Alamara continues its attacks on communities, forcing evacuation and massive
displacement among civilians.
than 500 families, or about 2,600 Ata-Manobos living in the sitios
(sub-villages) of Barangay (village) Palma Gil (namely, Tibukag, Km 17,
Mitibugaw, Natampod,Bagang, Dolyan, Lasakan
and Tamagan, including neighboring sitios in Pangaan, Nasilaban and Nalubas) are
affected in the course of recent Alamara operations.
military-created Alamara operating in the area headed by a certain Datu Sanggat
Logsing of Km 25 threatened to get back at the civilians if New People’s Army
(NPA) guerillas attack any of the vigilantes.
exodus of about 200 Ata-Manobo, about 70 of them children, took place in Lasakan
following an incident in May this year where Alamara men led by Sanggat stormed
their community and threatened the residents. "If the NPA ambushed us, we
will kill you!" the residents quoted the Alamaras as saying.
Alamara, in that incident, also forced the recruitment of three villagers namely
Lito Butod, Makahindog Balite and Andamon Masiluboy but failed when the village
leader mediated in their behalf.
April 20, about 26 Alamara men and four regular Army soldiers conducted
operations in Sitio Bagang, forcing residents to evacuate. The men, who said
they were hunting for NPA guerillas in the village, killed the pig of the
village leader and stayed in the houses in the community overnight.
Mantikinon, the village leader, said that the Alamara leader identified as
Andigao dared him to yield his pig if indeed he was telling the truth about the
NPAs. “We told them that we didn’t know about the NPA. But he told us that
if that were true, then we should give them our pig. We couldn’t complain
because they had guns and we didn’t want any trouble," Mantikinon said.
Alamara, he said, stayed in their houses the whole night and even destroyed the
vegetables they planted. The Alamara told them that they would retaliate against
the villagers if the NPA attacked any member of the vigilante group.
Alamara, which is also known as the Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVO) in
the villages, are being armed, controlled and financed by the AFP and are being
used as assistants of Army regulars and Cafgus during their counter-insurgency
accounts are based on the testimonies of the Lumad victims who asked the support
of the Pasaka Regional Lumad Confederation, a Lumad people's organization in
Monico Cayog, Pasaka secretary-general, said the Alamara, armed with firearms
issued by the AFP, patrol the villages using coercive tactics against fellow
Lumads to force them to join their group against the NPA. These tactics, he
said, include red-baiting and inflicting physical harm upon the civilians.
a result, they terrorize the civilians and drive them out of their homes, like
what happened to the Ata-Manobos in Talaingod, for fear of death and for fear of
being tagged as communists," Cayog said.
July 14, a delegation of 18 Ata- Manobos representing the affected communities
in Talaingod, together with representatives from religious organizations and
support groups working with indigenous peoples, trooped to the office of Davao
del Norte Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario in Tagum City to complain against the Alamara.
the dialogue with the governor and a representative from the National Commission
on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the Lumads demanded nothing less than the
immediate disbandment of the Alamara.
Lumads said the 73rd Infantry Battalion under the command of then commanding
officer Col. Eduardo del Rosario was accountable for the rise of vigilante
abuses in the region. According to them, the Alamara’s activities were being
portrayed by Col. Del Rosario as a “spontaneous uprising” of the Lumads
against the NPA. In fact, according to the Lumads, the members were either
deceived or threatened into joining the group.
by poverty and lured by the promise of a meager salary and access to guns, the
Lumads recruited into the Alamara lay their lives on the line for a cause they
do not genuinely understand or believe in, the Lumads said.
Gamut, an Ata-Manobo from sitio Pangaan, testified in that dialogue that her
husband, Kanakan Gamut, used to be a Cafgu member but got out of it when he
realized that the measly P900 monthly allowance that he was getting could not
support his family.
day in February, Kanakan was passing through sitio Km. 31 on his way home when
soldiers from the 72nd IB accosted him. They said the corn grains that Kanakan
had just bought was for the NPA guerillas. One of the soldiers whom Kanakan
later identified as a certain Ulagno mauled him right there and then.
said that since the incident, Kanakan has not gone back to their farm because he
has since become very sickly and could hardly walk.
such as what happened to Kanakan highlight the fact that the Lumads in Davao del
Norte have been living under constant surveillance and continued suspicion of
being NPA supporters by Alamara members, according to the human-rights alliance
Karapatan. Lumads in these villages are going hungry as their parents could no
longer work in their farms.
recruitment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of Lumads into the
Cafgu and the Alamara has heightened despite a UN recommendation to pull out
paramilitary troops in indigenous areas.
UN Special Rapporteur Staven Hagen made that recommendation after coming to the
Philippines early this year where he held discussions with Lumad people's
organizations and support groups working with indigenous peoples.
groups, such as the Solidarity Action Group for Indigenous Peoples (Sagip), are
also asking for the disbandment of the vigilante group.
a statement, Sagip said the harassments reported by the Lumad civilians show
that the Alamara is a bane to the indigenous peoples, contrary to the claims of
the AFP that they are protecting the villages.
recalled that, at the height of vigilantism in 1987, the vigilantes were
responsible for countless killings, illegal arrests, evacuation, displacement
and other forms of human rights abuses inflicted upon civilians.
also said that the vigilantes are a potential army for political warlords and
landlords and tend to resort to banditry.
have the right to peace. The Alamara must be pulled out in the areas so that
civilians can return to their normal lives, grow their crops and live in
peace," Sagip said. Bulatlat.com
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