DAVAO CITY – A total of 120 Manobo evacuees from Bukidnon returned to their homes Sunday after military forces were reported to have pulled-out from their communities in the past weeks.
Jimboy Mandaguit, leader of lumad organization Kasilo in a statement said their return to their province “is a small victory gained over five months of evacuation and protest here in the city.”
However, he said, “We bear no illusions that the military have changed. We know that they will return and commit atrocities again.”
“We bear in mind that there are thousands more evacuees all over Mindanao. As long as the military has not left other lumad communities in the countryside, then us lumads will continue to protest and struggle against them,” Mandaguit said.
Mandaguit was among the 700 indigenous peoples who joined the month-long human rights caravan protest, Manilakbayan in Metro Manila.
“We also urge the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front,” he said.
He said over 600 Manobos from Talaingod and Kapalong in Davao del Norte remain in UCCP Haran in Davao City, while 3,000 Manobos are also in the Tandag City Sports Complex, Surigao del Sur province.
The Manobos in Surigao del Sur evacuated after the killing of three indigenous people’s leaders, including a school director in Lianga town last September 1. Residents have already filed criminal charges against the members of the Magahat paramilitary unit who allegedly perpetrated the killings.
The military in previous statements have denied their hand in the operations of the paramilitary groups. Not one suspect has been prosecuted as of present time. (davaotoday.com)