DAVAO CITY – The tribal representative to the City Council here on Tuesday, urged the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to investigate complaints of abuse relating to their land in the northwestern part of this city.

Councilor Bai Halila Sudagar also sent a statement of concern and grief over the killing of a tribesmen in a military raid on a hinterland residence that soldiers claimed were armed guerillas who fired at them.

Sudagar said that the Bagobo and K’lata tribes from Barangay Manuel Guianga, Tugbok District, 30 kilometers west of downtown “are experiencing maltreatment and abuses allegedly perpetrated by a certain religious entity and some influential individuals.”

Last month, she said that the Bagobo and  Klatas had just just “reclaimed” their homes lots from alleged occupiers “who took it from them by force” last year.

Read related story: Dislocated Bagobos reclaim lands occupied by religious cooperative

“The lumads have alleged that they were forced to vacate their lands by force and intimidation and their crops were destroyed and houses were burned,” she said.

The “occupiers” filed a case against the Bagobo-Klata saying they were armed with “long firearms.”

The said occupiers, allegedly from the Jesus Christ Cooperative of the Jesus Christ The Name Above Every Name religious sect led by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, did not attend a dialogue convened by the barangay.

The Bagobo-Klata accused the cooperative of a “creeping takeover” of their ancestral land since it arrived in 1997.

Sudagar did not make any further comment on the issue saying that the incident is yet to be investigated by the appropriate government agency.

However, she said “their grievances are not light and shallow to just be brushed off.”

“Thus, I urge the NCIP regional office 11 to conduct the necessary investigation and aid the lumads in their claim of ancestral domain,” she said.

She also called other concern government agencies to held conduct investigation and make the necessary action to help and protect the IPs in the area.

Meanwhile, she expressed her grief on the death of three Ata-Manobos on Sunday, who the military alleged were members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

While the Army said it was an encounter that took place in Purok 7, Barangay Paradise Embac in Paquibato District, the human rights group, Karapatan said families of the victims and witnesses said that they were massacred. A 12-year old girl was wounded.

The three victims were identified Ruben Enlog, tribal leader (Datu) of the Ata Manobos in Sitio Manipis, farmer Oligario Quimbo, and Randy Carnasa, a purok leader from Purok 7.

Karapatan Secretary General Hanimay Suazo said that “we have just wrapped up a fact-finding mission in Sitio Quimotod in Paquibato, where we documented bombings and harassments of the populace by the 69th IB.”

“A few days after, state forces massacred the civilians, adding up to their already long list of human rights violations,” Suazo said.

Read related story: ‘Rebels’ killed by military are civilians, community leaders, says group

“We grieve to those who have lost their lives,” Sudagar said.

“I am deeply troubled that this conflict has been going on and on without any progress at all. So much blood has been shed. So many lives have been lost. It’s time that these matters be resolved once and for all,” she added.

Sudagar hopes that investigation will be made by the concern agencies in order to help her fellow IPs. (davaotoday.com)

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