“The attacks against the national minorities also escalate as activists are killed in other parts of the country. Mangyan communities recently  sent distress calls due to AFP operations. Makeshift houses of Lumad bakwit were demolished by the Misamis Oriental LGU,” Kerlan Fanagel, a Lumad council member of Sandugo-Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination said today.

Last June 16, Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, in response to  reports of bombings and burning of huts from the distress calls of  Mangyan tribal leaders, led a humanitarian mission to assist Mangyan communities and investigate reports of human rights violations by state security forces in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro and Monteclaro, San Jose Occidental Mindoro.

“Even the humanitarian mission experienced harassment and intimidation by police in checkpoints and in their place of refuge at the chapel of United Methodist chapel,” Fanagel said. “The mission was blocked to proceed to the affected Mangyan communities. We are extremely worried about the welfare of Mangyan communities who may be suffering due to intense military operations,” Fanagel said.

According to Karapatan-ST, they are also trying to retrieve and identify the remains of three possible victims of the AFP operations. Circumstance of their deaths are still unverified.

“Meanwhile, in Cagayan de Oro City, makeshift houses just set up by Lumad evacuees are being demolished as we speak,” Fanagel said. Some 30 Lumad families have camped inside the Vicente de Lara Park in front of the Misamis Oriental Provincial Capitol grounds since last year. “They left their homes in Barangay Banglay, Lagonglong to escape heavy military operations and the establishment of a military detachment near their area,” Fanagel continued. 

“Lumad evacuees built these makeshift homes to protect themselves from the extreme heat and rain. Now that these are demolished, the children will be exposed to harsh environment, especially this rainy season,” Fanagel said.

“Where else will can our indigenous brothers and sisters go to in times of crisis? The local government turned their backs.Not only did they neglect the indigenous peoples but even demolished our efforts to survive. This is part of the Duterte government’s  militarized policy on indigenous peoples’ issues –implementing martial law in Mindanao and even appointing the creator of paramilitaries in Mindanao, Col. Allen Capuyan as IP Commission Chief ,” Fanagel said.

“Who else can the indigenous peoples turn to when human rights workers are killed or denied to provide us assistance?” Fanagel asked.  Recently, Karapatan workers in Sorsogon, Bicol, Ryan Hubilla and Nelly Bagasala, were gunned down. This was immediately followed by the killing of Neptali Moradaalso in Bicol. “It is people like them who are always ready to help the marginalized sectors like the national minorities. Killing them is equivalent to killing the voices of the poor,” Fanagel said.

“We demand the immediate pull out of AFP troops in Mangyan communities in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro and Monteclaro, San Jose Occidental Mindoro. Let the humanitarian mission assist these communities. We also demand the local government of Misamis Oriental to provide the Lumad evacuees safe and humane refuge while AFP troops continue to sow terror in their ancestral lands and communities.

“We hold the Duterte government accountable for gross neglect of their welfare and rights, andthe violence against them. It is the Duterte government’s anti-IP policies that embolden the AFP and  every government agency  treat us like the enemies. We demand justice!” Fanagel ended. ###

Press Release: June 18,2019
Reference: Kerlan Fanagel, council member, SANDUGO