Lumads flee as military steps up operations in Talaingod

Jan. 29, 2008

Military operations in the hinterlands of Talaingod town, Davao del Norte, are displacing Ata-Manobo families.

The lumads (indigenous peoples) of 17 villages; namely: Tibukag, Purok 31, Paiton, Purok 17, Dalingding, Tibugaw, Natampod, Labuo, Duryan, Tambuko, Mahindang, Nalubas, Lasakan, Sasu, Bagang, Pongpong and Nasilaban in Talaingod town, left their homes in fear after attacks by the military units led by Lt. Colonel Alexander Ambal of the the 73rd Infantry Battalion, escalated.

Ambal joined forces with the Army Scout Rangers led by 1st Lt. Betinol, 2nd Lt. Mopal and 1st Lt. Villanueva.

“We demand the immediate pull out of these bloodthirsty military elements from Talaingod Mel Elio, chairperson of the Southern Mindanao lumad organization PASAKA, said.

He said government troops have encamped in the houses and schoolbuildings within Ata-Manobo communities in Talaingod in the last 15 days.

Residents also complained that money, salt, tobacco (trisbi), knives and machetes went missing while the soldiers were around. Farm animals were slaughtered without their permission; and farm shelters housing rice and seedlings were destroyed and torched. They also said that water containers of the local residents were filled with urine and feces.

After skirmishes between the government and rebel forces last January 13 in Sitio Sasu, Brgy. Palma Gil, lumad residents particularly women — have been subjected to military harrassment. Even datus (lumad leaders) Datu Kolorot and Datu Ele were disrespected and their properties, destroyed. Your browser may not support display of this image.

Osting Dawsay of the lumad group Salupongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon, said that in Sitio Lasakan, the residents were starving and had nothing to eat for days because they were prevented from going to their farm to look for food. He said a five-month old baby named Kalyawa reportedly died of hunger.

Some residents left their homes and went as far as Bukidnon just to look for food. Others opted to hide in the forests of the Pantaron Range to avoid the military. Salupongan leaders have been alarmed by the atrocities. They said they feel that their people are not safe from the abuses of the government soldiers. The destruction and divestments of properties, harassment, threats and the aerial bombings in the past weeks have disrupted community life, including their day to day livelihood and the school activities of the children.

Salupongan believed that their opposition to the Integrated Forestry Management Agreement logging project must have prompted the military to intensify their operation in the area. The lumads have been fighting against the government-backed IFMA for a long time now because it threatens to intrude into their ancestral domain. Your browser may not support display of this image.

The Ata Manobo victims will be filing formal complaints against the abusive military soldiers who are accountable for the atrocities happening in their area. They are also calling on local government leaders and provincial officials of Davao del Norte intercede, investigate and immediately stop the on-going militarization in Talaingod.

“The rise of the human rights violation incidents against indigenous peoples shows the Arroyo governments blatant disregard of our basic human rights and our right to self-determination. The massive and systematic attack in Talaingod violates International Humanitarian Law. We are urging the concerned government agencies to immediately probe deeper into this, prosecute the perpetrators, indemnify and bring justice to the Ata-Manobo victims in Talaingod,” Elio said.### Your browser may not support display of this image.

For Reference:


Mel Elio

PASAKA Chairperson


Manoling Tingkas

Salupongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Spokesperson

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