DAVAO CITY – Security personnel of a ranch allegedly fired upon three members of an indigenous group which is asserting land claim in Butong, Quezon, Bukidnon on Tuesday morning.

The victims were identified as Tata Biato who was killed during the incident, Japsem Bagna and Ricky Tumbaga who were both wounded.

In an interview with Davao Today, Bae Jocelyn Agdahan, 41, and one of the leaders of indigenous peoples group, Tindoga (Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association), said Biato sustained a gunshot wound on his chest resulting to his death.

He said Bagna sustained gunshot wound on his arm while Tumbaga was hit on his armpit. The incident happened around 9:00 am while the three lumad farmers were on their way to a protest action to assert their claim on the land owned by landlord Pablo Lorenzo.

Agdahan said on March 16, they started their “Bungkalan”, where they protested by planting corn in their ancestral domain. It was also their way of preparing for the El Nino phenomenon, Agdahan said.

Agdahan identified a certain Bolongan, one of the security personnel in Montalvan Ranch as one of the suspects. Bolongan, she said, was accompanied by not less than 20 other security personnel.

“On September 1, 2014, the NCIP awarded us the CADT (Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title), but the harrassment against us continues,” Agdahan said adding that the land area awarded to eight clans was a total of 623 hectares.

Agdahan said they are now divided with the four other clans that have agreed that the lands be used by the landlords.

Agdahan said the harrassment against them started on December 21, 2009, when the agreement with the landlords expired.

She said it was their elders who allowed the Montalvan Ranch to “borrow” the land “but the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was the one who collected the rent from the ranch owners.”

“Wala mi mabuhat kundili mo-atras kay dili makaya ang ilahang armas (we cannot do anything but leave because they are armed),” Agdahan said.

“Wala gyud mi katikad sukad. Didto lang mi nagpuyo sa kilid sa koral, (We were never able to farm the land, we only live outside the ranch gates),” Agdahan said.

Agdahan said they only want to assert their rightful claim to the land as reflected on their CADT.

“The shooting incident is the latest harrassment done by Pablo Lorenzo against us, who are the real owners of the land,” Agdahan said.

This is the fifth case of assault perpetrated by Lorenzo but this time one of their members died, she said.

Agdahan said they are currently facilitating the embalming of the dead body of Baito while the two others were sent to a hospital in Maramag, Bukidnon. (davaotoday.com)

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