DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A group of indigenous people cried foul on Wednesday, January 10, over an alleged blocking of food being transported to remote villages in Kapalong, Davao del Norte.
More than 200 families have been affected by the said blockade since December 23, 2017, said Karadyawan in a statement.
Karadyawan is a Lumad organization based in Kapalong, home to thousands of people belonging to the Ata Manobo tribe.
Datu Mentroso Malibato, chairperson of Karadyawan, also claimed that members of paramilitary group Alamara and military men in the area blocked efforts to transport food into the hinterland communities since December 23, 2017.
These blockades, he said, had been taking place in Sitios Muling, Mangkay, Lunloluno, Kamumunuan, Bugton Lubi, and Kapatagan in Barangay Gupitan in Kapalong.
“Hunger greeted the indigenous people this new year,” said Malibato, describing the blockade, which continues to happen until January this year.
In a phone interview with Davao Today, he described how the series of blockades were taking place.
Alamara members, he said, “harass and block” residents of other villages in Sitio Patil, which is the entry point to all other affected villages.
Some of these men “warned that if community members will buy food and other goods, they will be ambushed,” he added.
He said people are now seeking refuge in other nearby villages while others went deep in the jungle for food.
“This food blockade is a direct attack on our right to food,” Malibato added.
The Lumad leader called to end the martial law in Mindanao, saying that “the Alamara and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) justified these attacks through the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao.”
In 2015, hundreds of IPs from Barangay Gupitan sought refuge in UCCP Haran evacuation center due to attacks by the paramilitary group.
A team of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) were refused entry by “tribal warriors” last August 31, 2017 and failed to deliver 2,500 food packs in Sitio Patil, Barangay Gupitan.
Karadyawan calls for the government to pull-out military troops from their communities, disarm paramilitary group Alamara and help rebuild Lumad communities affected by militarization. (davaotoday.com)