By KALUHHAMIN PR
KORONADAL CITY – More than 5,000 lumad from South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, General Santos City, North Cotabato, and Davao del Sur converged on Monday. August 22, for a weeklong camp-out in this city to demand for the stop of the operations of logging concession of Consunji and large-scale mining of Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) and support the ongoing peace talks between the Duterte administration and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The gathering, which will last from August 22 to 26, started with a “Sadyandi” coinciding with the peace talks which starts today in Oslo, Norway. It is also considered historical since it is the first time that the lumad from various tribes in the region converge to forge the pact. Sadyandi is a lumad term which means “unity pact”.
The participants belong to the Dulangan Manobo, Blaan, Tboli, Teruray, Klagan, Kaolo, and Bagobo tribes and some Moro representatives.
“Our lands are now being encroached and plundered incessantly by the aggressive operations and expansion of large-scale mining, agri-plantations and logging concessions. We are driven away out of our lands. Our tribe and rich culture are threatened to extinction or ethnocide” said Minda Dalinan, secretary general of Kahugpongan sa mga Lumad sa Halayong Habagatang Mindanao (KALUHHAMIN), the regional alliance of lumad in the region.
In Sultan Kudarat, and neighboring provinces, at least 102,954 hectares, mostly ancestral domain of the Dulangan Manobos, have been exploited by the big landlord Consunji family through a number of Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) permits.
Furthermore, the Blaan ancestral lands in the quadri-boundary of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Davao del Sur is targeted to be the biggest mining operation in the country as the Tampakan Mining Project operated by Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) and Indophil of the Alcantara family has acquired the permit to mine more than 99,000 hectares of these lands through a Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
Kaluhhamin noted that “To pave the way for the unbridled entry of these projects, the previous administration, in collusion with the foreign and big local companies employ militarization under the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan of BS Aquino. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and paramilitaries become the Investment Defense Forces (IDF) and private security guards of these companies. The Task Force Kitacom (Kiblawan, Tampakan, Columbio and Malungon) was formed by 10th Infantry Division, Philippine Army and acting as company guards of SMI while the Consunji uses a battalion of Special Armed Auxilliary (SCAA), 38th IB and a Brigade of Marines and 57th IB as private security guards.”
In the course of this operation, more human rights violations including forcible evacuations, filing of trumped-up charges against community leaders, attacks on lumad alternative schools, killings and massacres have been committed with impunity against lumads. Such gross violations include the massacre of anti-large-scale mining Capion family in Tampakan, South Cotabato and killing of John Calaba, a lumad leader staunchly opposing the operation of the Consunjis in Sultan Kudarat.
This situation has fuelled the resistance of lumads to defend their lives, ancestral lands and livelihood. More vigorous actions have been taken up ranging from lobbying, signature campaigns, protest and mobilization, to even waging armed resistance and joining the revolutionary organization of New People’s Army (NPA).
The lumad are also set to hold dialogues and consultations with national and local officials including with Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano. # nordis.net