DAVAO CITY – The evacuation of more than 900 lumads from San Luis, Agusan del Sur is due to the mining interest in the area said the Banwaon datus, Monday.

Jomorito Goaynon, deputy secretary general of the Mindanao IP group Kalumaran said “Tambuli Mining Company Inc. and Malampay Mining Inc. are planning to conduct an open-pit mining in the area for gold.”

According to the records of human rights group Karapatan in Caraga 207 families involving 969 individuals were forced to evacuate their community “due to threats by paramilitary groups and elements of the 26th Infantry Battalion- 4th Infantry Division Philippine Army (26IB-4th ID PA) under Lt. Col. Rolando Dumawa to pave way for the entry of mining companies in the area.”

Residents from Brgy. Mahagsay sitios: Maputi, Kandiisan, Mimpalaus, Pig-ulingan, Nakadayas and Tabon-Tabon; Brgy. Binicalan sitios: Kimambokagyang, Tabanganan, Tambo and KM 48; and Brgy. San Pedro sitios: Kihinggay, Kipuyag and Agduka evacuated to Brgy. Balit, San Luis.

Three families were victims of divestment of properties, Eliza Rose Pangilinan, secretary general of Karapatan-Caraga said.

22 individuals were victims of harassment and intimidation, 10 innocent civilians were used as guide in military operations, seven were forced to surrender as members of the New People’s Army (NPA), and 11 victims of indiscriminate firing, Pangilinan said.

Datu “Bagal” Mauro Mansilyohan, a chief community adviser of the Banwaons in Sitio Tabon-Tabon, Barangay Mahagsay, San Luis, said “the paramilitary groups in the area wants us to give up our ancestral domain to them through a unified Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT).”

“Mario Napungahan, a tribal chieftain who used to be with the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), wants us to transfer to their community so that the ancestral domain of the Banwaons will be consolidated under his supervision and leadership,” Mansilyohan said.

He added Napungahan wants to consolidate the CADT because he wants mining corporations to operate in the ancestral domains of the Banwaons in San Luis.

Meanwhile, Ricky Hogsalan, vice chairman of sitio Tabon-Tabon, said they were invited by the members of the 26IB-4th ID PA in Barangay Mahagsay on November 23, 2014 to discuss about CADT.

“The military personnel talked to us one-by-one, they questioned our refusal to go against the consolidated CADT for our ancestral domain,” Hogsalan said.

Hogsalan said through the army’s Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD), they were “constantly convincing indigenous peoples” about the benefits of mining and the CADT under Mario Napungahan.

Also, around 20 Banwaon datus representing the tribal communities involved in the evacuation conducted a meeting on Sunday (Feb. 1).

They all agreed that the corporate mining interest in the area is the reason behind the militarization and harassment towards them that also breed forcible evacuation, said Hogsalan.

In a separate statement, the Eastern Mindanao Command of the armed forces alleged that the NPA “intimidated the indigenous peoples” causing the massive evacuation.

Goaynon, however, said “the collusion of the military and the lumad bandits in the hinterlands pave the way of foreign mining corporations that will surely destroy our environment,” adding that the armed forces have been training these “bandits” through the Investment Defense Force (IDF) program.

Goaynon said they are calling to stop the COPD operations in the community and “let the Banwaons decide for themselves without threats and intimidation.” (davaotoday.com)

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