CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY , Philippines – The family of a male minor who was shot by armed men in Barangay Kawayan, San Fernando, Bukidnon on Monday morning will file criminal a complaint against the gunmen, a tribal leader said.
A report said a 10-year-old boy was hit in the foot by a bullet on November 5 when a group of men fired at residents in Sitio Alimpulos in Kawayan due to a land conflict..
Raol Kampoan, of the Kasilo organization, said witnesses saw the attackers fired on villagers. No one was reported injured or killed in the attack but a stray bullet hit the child’s foot.
Kampoan said some 20 armed men arrived at the rice field on Monday and started destroying the seedlings that were ready for planting. The land was cultivated by the members of the Talaandig tribe .
The rice field is in an area called “bungkalan” and is part of the 320 hectares of land considered as ancestral domain by the tribal residents.
The act, he said, prompted the residents to defend their crops and that was when shots were fired.
In a phone interview, Kampoan said the boy’s family is determined to file criminal cases against the assailants.
“We cannot let it pass. We have laws that should be followed,” Kampoan said in vernacular.
As of this writing, it was yet to be determined what particular complaint will be lodged against the suspects at the prosecutor’s office in Bukidnon.
He said the perpetrators must not be allowed to harass the “lumad” (indigenous people) living on land they inherited from their ancestors.
Kampoan added that since martial law has not yet been lifted in Mindanao, civilians are not even permitted to carry firearms.
The suspects, whom the villagers identified, were seen carrying 12-gauge shotguns and short firearms before proceeding to the site where the shooting took place.
Kampoan said the attackers were also farmers like them but are living in Sitio Spring, near Alimpulos, in Kawayan.
He said the assailants claimed the land as their own, but Kampoan insisted that the area is theirs as there was no proof that their forebear had sold it to the settlers.
“We did not sell it (land). We just want to go back to the land of our ancestors. We want to live in peace,” Kampoan said, adding that the land in question has a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title.
In a statement released following the incident, the tribal group Kalumbay said “it is important to remember that President Duterte warned farmers on occupying unused and barren lands, threatening to shoot them if they do so. And with [martial law] in place in Mindanao, both private and security armed forces are emboldened to carry out this blatant and vicious assault on the Lumad who are just trying to feed their families.”(davaotoday.com)