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Category: Urgent Appeal, IP/IP Rights     Date: July 7, 2011

PHILIPPINES: [Urgent Alert] Paramilitaries attack Higaonon community in Agusan Sur, 2 dead, 2 others severely wounded

On July 5, members of the Wild Dogs, a paramilitary group headed by Deo S. Manpatilan, attacked the community of Datu Landang in Sitio Simontanan, Brgy. Pangapungan, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines. Artie Belayong and his son in law, Amang, died on the spot while two of Artie's sons were severely injured.

Many Lumad (Indigenous Peoples) communities, including this headed by Datu Landang in speranza, have been targeted by the Wild Dogs ever since they openly rejected the entry of extractive industries especially mining, logging and plantations in their Ancestral Domain. The communities, organized under the Lumad community organization, Linundigan, then headed by Datu Mampaagi Belayong, the older brother of Artie, similarly refused to acknowledge the inclusion of their lands in the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim Titles of Manpatilan and Ronald Manhumosay, both CADT holders pushing for the three extractive industries.

In September 2009, Datu Mampaagi was killed by members of the armed groups, Task Force Gantangan and specifically, Bungkatol Liberation Front (BULIF), which is also under TFG to silence the opposition to the entry of companies.

"What happened after seemed like a rido (clan war) between our families and that of Manhumosay, who leads the BULIF, and Manpatilan," said Bae Adelfa Belayong, chairperson of Madagway abaeyon and the widow of Datu Mampaagi. "But the real gist of the conflict is that we are against the plunder of our ancestral lands which they are selling to companies. We know that the loss of our lands is tantamount to the loss of our culture and our very identity."

Linundigan, a member of Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization (in Northern Mindanao) campaigned against the arming of the Lumads by the government. "Prior to the present government of Aquino, we had been campaigning against the National Internal Security Plan for Indigenous Peoples (NISP-IP) wherein the government, in the guise of counter-insurgency, bought out Lumads to threaten, harass and kill fellow Lumads who are against the plunder of our Ancestral Domains," said Jomorito Goaynon, chairperson of Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization. "The events of yesterday add up to the growing number of our killed families. Until now, none of the human rights violations committed against us have been given justice. We ask for the support of the various groups advocating the rights of Indigenous Peoples to support our campaign for the disarming of these paramilitary groups and holding them, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the government accountable for the numerous human rights violations done against us over the years. More importantly, we are calling for the government to respect our rights, especially our right to say no, our right to decide for our communties and our Ancestral Domains."

Presently, the surviving victims are still in the community, their relatives unable to get them to the nearest hospital because of the posts set up by the Wild Dogs along the roads leading from the community.

Source: KALUMBAY, Northern Mindanao Region, Philippines

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