Church group decries arrest of 6 rights defenders in Agusan del Sur

Oct. 28, 2017

Julito Otacan (Contributed photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A church-based group decried the arrest of five members of the Banwaon tribe of Agusan del Sur including a field worker of European Union-funded project for indigenous peoples’ rights.

Julito Rivera Otacan, together with five other Banwaon community members, Alejandro Barluado, Jonas Acosta, Noli Tahudan, Marlon Talatayod, and Joel Trasona, were arrested on Friday morning, October 27 in Barangay Balit, San Luis, Agusan del Sur, according to Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-North Mindanao Region.

The RMP said government forces arrested them Friday morning after finding grenades, firearms, and other equipment in their possession. The group said since the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, government troops have been conducting surveillance on Otacan.

The RMP said Otacan is a field worker of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines while his companions were all members of the Banwaon peoples’ organization called Tagdumahan.

Maridel Fano, program coordinator of RMP-NMR’s Rural Poor Organizing Support Program and supervisor of the Protecting and Promoting Indigenous Human Rights in the Philippines said that Otacan’s work involves “going around the Banwaon communities in Agusan del Sur, to organize and facilitate the training of community members in their capacity as human rights defenders.”

The group said the Tagdumahan organization was targeted by the military because of their vocal assertion of their rights to the Banwaon’s ancestral domain targeted by logging and mining companies.

The Protect and Promote Indigenous Human Rights in the Philippines is a project funded by the European Union and implemented by the RMP and Relief International.

As of posting, the group said Tahudan was brought to the battalion headquarters of the 26th IB in Poblacion, Talacogon, Agusan del Sur, while the rest were brought to the Police Station in Rubako, San Luis, Agusan del Sur.(

  • Atilla D. Hun

    the CPP NPA NDF statement always drag big names e.g. European Union, Relief International, etc. funded-project in there propaganda. RMP is the communist front line in their campaign advancing there protracted campaign against the government using lumad peoples. Balit is NPA-controlled area contra fellow Banuwaon of Mahagsay, Nuevo Trabajo and Binicalan, San Luis, ADS ). RMP is the successor of RGS or Religious Good Shepherd under the command of Sister Mary John Dumaog in the 80s and 90s. Sildap-Tagum is the CPP NPA NDF front in Davao Del Norte and Comval Province. Sildap-Tagum is the partner NGO of the Baguio-based Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education). Tebtebba has connection with lumad front organizations as KALUMARAN, PASAKA, KALUMBAY, KASILO, LUPAKA, PAGTUKUSAN, etc. The military especially the intelligence communities knows this but defer to take actions because communist threats to national security is actually their rai·son d’ê·tre. It made their budget in the GAA (people’s money) that includes the intel fund bigger and bigger every year.

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