Subject: [Karapatan HR update] PH Marines, DMCI continue assault on indigenous communities in Sultan Kudarat
News Release | 23 May 2017
Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580
PH Marines, DMCI continue assault on indigenous communities in Sultan Kudarat
“We have here again a case of how State forces secure the profits of private firms, instead of ensuring protection for marginalized communities. State security forces have proven that they are mere mercenaries, equivalent to ‘gun-for-hire’ goons who point their artilleries where money tells them to, all while deliberately promoting injustices. It is deplorable that apart from violations to civil and political rights, the economic, social and cultural rights of the Dulangan Manobo in Sultan Kudarat also continue to be sidestepped,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the recent militarization and attacks against communities in areas in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat.
On May 11, 2017, 60 composite elements of the 2nd Marine Batallion Landing Team (MBLT-2) and private guards of the David M. Consunji Incorporated (DMCI) arrived in Sitio Blanga, Nalilidan, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat following an encounter the day before. DMCI, a company involved in destructive logging and open-pit mining in the Daguma mountain range in Sultan Kudarat, have been operating in the area for around four decades. “The decades-long operation of DMCI in Sultan Kudarat is characterized by landgrabbing, militarization, plunder of resources, and rights violations,” said Palabay.
On May 12, 2017, the marines and DMCI private goons proceeded towards Pangyen, Kalamansig. Because of the heavy presence of Philippine Marines and DMCI guards in the area, residents from Pangyen and other nearby communities evacuated to Sitio Blanga, Brgy. Nalilidan.
Around 1,000 evacuees, all Dulangan Manobos, coming from seven communities in four barangays continue to stay at the evacuation center in Sitio Blanga. The day after, an encounter ensued in Pangyen whereby two truckloads of military personnel arrived in Brgy. Datu Wasay while 4 truckloads were dispatched in Brgy. Hinalaan. The MBLT-2 has set up camp in the said communities, occupying residents’ houses. As of this writing, and in light of the ongoing militarization, evacuees remain in the evacuation center.
Karapatan also scored Kalamansig Mayor Ronan Garcia for blocking the relief goods and other forms of aid by human rights and people’s organizations for the evacuees.
DMCI, employing State security forces, has long been implicated in a series of heinous crimes against communities in Sultan Kudarat.
On November 14, 2016, two Dulangan Manobo farmers from Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat were abducted and disappeared, perpetrated by two known assets of the DMCI. David Mogul and Maki Bail, both members of the Kesasabanay Dulangan Manobo (KEDUMA), an organization opposed to the logging and mining projects of DMCI, were on their way home when they were taken. Both have yet to be found.
Also on April 30, 2015, John Calaba, also a member of KEDUMA and a staunch environmental activist, was disappeared. He was last seen with members of the paramilitary group SCAA (Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary). The DMCI is known to use the SCAA as among its private goons. The AFP, specifically the 38th IBPA, provides training to the members of SCAA.
More recently, on March 19-24, 2017, 48 composite elements of the MBLT-2 and DMCI guards arrived in Sitio Tinagdanan, Brgy. Hinalaan, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat. During their stay in the area, they encamped in the church and in civilians’ houses. Palabay added that “the marines’ work in Sultan Kudarat is comprised of conducting counter-insurgency operations and following the bidding of DMCI. None of which involves service or protection of the people against vulturistic mining and logging companies. Instead, they have been at the forefront of rights violations.”
“DMCI has colluded with State forces to repress the indigenous communities fighting to defend their ancestral domain. From the use of the SCAA to their current partnership with the MBLT-2, DMCI has violated people’s economic, cultural and political rights by means of repression. With a former AFP general at the helm of the DENR, trained at ‘protecting their own’, these violations will remain unsolved,” said Palabay.
“The military and DMCI, along with its destructive mining and logging practices, have no place in Lumad communities. We call for the immediate pull-out of troops in the communities of Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat, as well as support and immediate assistance for the evacuees who are still unable to return home,” concluded Palabay. ###
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.