Through 15 years of telling stories of the fringes in Davao and other parts of Mindanao, photographs have helped capture the moments and emotions of the story. As we commemorate our 15th year, we combed through our catalog to bring 15 defining images of Mindanao that weaves our reportage on local politics, mass movements and peoples’ daily struggles.
Decades of counter-insurgency strategies, have only spilled blood among farmers, Moro and indigenous peoples in Mindanao. A family grieves over the killing of a Lumad rights defender in Loreto, Agusan del Sur in September 2013.
In the past seven years, the Manobos of Talaingod, Davao del Norte have been further driven away from their ancestral territories, and their children shut off from their schools, as harassment and red-tagging by the paramilitary and military officials continue to divide the tribe.
“My dear friend” is how then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte describes New People’s Army (NPA) commander Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao , as they meet in 2013 during the release of captured soldiers. The two bonded for decades as the mayor reached out to the revolutionary movement to discuss peace. When Parago was killed in a military operation in 2015, Duterte allowed a funeral march in the city where 10,000 from Parago’s base attended.
Traveling by bus and ferry from Mindanao to Metro Manila, the yearly Manilakbayan campaign from 2014 to 2017 converged hundreds of Lumad, farmers and local activists to engage national leaders and advocates to uphold human rights and ancestral domain. Davao Today covered Manilakbayan in 2015.
This award-winning photo shows a police officer shaking hands with an NPA fighter during the safe release of a soldier being held as prisoner-of-war in Agusan del Sur.
Davao Today was one of the few media outfits that witnessed the actual dispersal of the farmers in North Cotabato by police on April 1, 2016 now called the “Kidapawan Massacre” where two persons were killed including a bystander and several wounded by gunfire. The farmers demanded for food relief as months of El Niño affected their harvest.
Rodrigo Duterte has always been a subject of media with his controversial stand and quips. His bid for the presidency was fervently followed by local media, which began as a question in 2015 up to his euphoric campaign and victory.
September 2, 2016, a blast ripped in the middle of the busy Roxas Night Market, killing 15 persons and 60 others injured, uniting Davaoeños for solidarity of the victims. Seven persons were recently convicted for the bombing.
Peace talks with the National Democratic Front was revived at the start of the Duterte presidency. The self-proclaimed “leftist” appointed Davao officials to the government panel: Jesus Dureza (presidential peace adviser), Silvestre Bello III (head of the government negotiating panel) and Angela Librado. Davao Today was able to cover the peace negotiations, as government and NDF panels worked for the socio-economic reform framework to address the roots of poverty and conflict. These gains were shuttled as Duterte called off talks in 2017.
Marawi City was left in rubbles after five months of gunfight and artillery attacks between government troops and the ISIS-inspired Maute fighters. Three years after its ‘liberation’ thousands of displaced Maranaws tell the story of neglect and hardship as they long to return to their homes.
President Duterte put the entire Mindanao under Martial Law during the siege in Marawi on May 23, 2017. Even after the Maute group was “eliminated” that year, Martial Law was extended by Congress twice, ending on December 31, 2019. Human rights defenders said the military and paramilitary took advantage of the declaration to run rampant on abuses and human rights violations in Lumad, peasant and Moro communities.
The Manobo of Surigao del Sur have been forced to flee due to military operations. In 2015, the killing of their school director and two leaders by the paramilitary sparked nationwide outrage. The leader of the paramilitary was killed by the NPA this year, but military operations still continue.
Davao Today joined the decade-long campaign for justice for the murder of 34 media people in the 2009 Ampatuan Massacre. Journalists and families of victims hold memorial services on the 23rd of November every year. The last gathering was victorious as the court convicted the heads of the Ampatuan clan.
A cart doubles as a bed for this vendor and son after a whole day work. Poverty and low standard of living remains unchanged in the city as well as in the rest of the country.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted the lives of Filipinos especially the poor. Davao Today puts thrust in featuring stories of ordinary citizens trying to survive the economic and health crises.