Ranch guards kill 3 Higaonon in Sumilao, Bukidnon


On July 12, 2016, security personnel of RAMCAR Inc. fired at members of the Sitio Inalsahan Indigenous Peoples Organization who were at their makeshift tent, killing three of the lumad farmers who were then preparing to farm.

According to survivors, at around six in the morning, 13 security guards from the Tagbagani Security Agency employed by the company allegedly surrounded the tent of the lumads put up on the land they were tilling at Sitio Inalsahan, Barangay Lupiagan, Sumilao, Bukidnon. The guards were firing at the lumads while encircling them. The lumads, who were then having coffee, tried to duck and seek cover.

Remar Mayantao, a council member of the Sitio Inalsahan Indigenous People Organization, raised his arms to express submission to the guards. However, he was hit on his right abdomen, causing him to fall. A security guard went to him and slit his throat with a knife.

Senon Nacaytuna attempted to run. However, he tripped and fell. Another security guard went to him, turned him so that he faced upwards, and shot him on the chest. The guard then placed a 0.38 gun on Nacayutna’s hand that was holding a weeding bolo. Rogen Suminao also took a fatal shot. Three other lumad farmers – one of them a 15-year old female – were wounded.

The shooting lasted for five minutes. The guards destroyed three of the tents of the lumads that were on the contested land and went away. The tents were set up on the contested area that the lumad group had been claiming but was occupied by RAMCAR Inc.

In 2011, the Higaonon community in Brgy. Lupiagan processed an ancestral domain claim over 5,000 hectares of land in the said barangay. However, they found out that only 2,400 hectares were left untitled over the years, the rest of the ‘borrowed’ land from their ancestors already privately owned by institutions and individuals. The group settled for an application for the 2,400 hectares.

However, the lumad group claimed that RAMCAR Inc., which is raising cattle in the area, fenced around 5,000 hectares including part of their ancestral domain claim. On June 11, 2014, the lumads set up tents on the contested land. The following day, they were driven away by the guards of the company and so were forced to transfer their tents outside the fenced area. The security guards then put up a guardhouse in front of them.

In the first week of July, Datu Makalingaw received notice that there is already a request from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to allow them to enter the lands they had claimed. However, the group waited for a dialogue that was to be facilitated by the Local Government Unit of Sumilao and the NCIP. The lumads also set up three more tents on July 10 – this time inside the territory fenced by RAMCAR Inc. but well within their ancestral domain.