Davao del Norte Lumads cancel plan to return home as paramilitary attacks renew

Feb. 27, 2015

DAVAO CITY – Manobo Lumads from interior Davao del Norte villages and who sought safety here last month cancelled their scheduled return today as report of continued attacks by militiamen reached them.

Datu Doloman Dawsay, spokesperson of the tribal organization Salugpungan Ta Ta’nu Igkanugon said the son of another tribal datu was chased by members of the military-backed paramilitary group Alamara in Sitio Pongpong in Barangay Palma Gil yesterday. The Alamara militia were  armed with sharp bolos.

“The victim is in hiding and only managed to give some details,” said Doloman.

Doloman said that the datus of Sitio Pongpong and Lasakan instructed the teachers of the Salugpungan Coomunity Learning Center, Inc, a private agricultural school by missionaries, to leave their school in Sitio Nasilaban for their safety.

Sitio Nasilaban is a day walk from Sitio Pongpong and two-days walk from Sitio Lasakan.

The Alamara, said Doloman, allegedly declared a “pangayaw” (indigenous warfare) against the communities of Salugpungan.

Isidro Indao, spokesperson of Pasaka, a regional tribal group, said they were disappointed by the renewed attacks especially that these occurred only one day after they had a dialogue with the Army.

During the dialogue, General Aurelio Baladad, commander of the Armed Force’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), said “it is prohibited to encamp in schools and public buildings.”

“Please tell us, the Mayor (and Regional Peace and Order Council Chair Rodrigo Duterte), the barangay captain if it happens,” said Baladad.

However, Indao said that the Army’s 60th and 68th Infantry Battalion were in fact the ones who “armed, trained and ordered the Alamara.”

Kerlan Fanagel, secretary-general of Pasaka, asked then “who is in control of the Alamara.”

“If they are not the ones behind the Alamara, then why not disarm them as civilians are not supposed to have firearms? So who is really in control of the areas where Army units are present?” he said.

This was not answered by military officials.

But Duterte said during the same dialogue that he “will not stop soldiers to go anywhere” but said to the Lumads to “call me if they do something wrong and I will call them.”

Indao said that with Baladad’s and Duterte’s assurance, the Talaingod Manobos were supposed to return to their homes beginning Friday.

“But how can they do that now when they are being attacked and even their villages are being evacuated,” he said.(davaotoday.com)

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