Forced evacuation, militarization raised before EU a month before Philippine UPR

Karapatan Press release
Date of publication: 
30 April, 2012

Bakwit communities demand: We want to return home to our land

A month before the Philippine government undergoes the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Karapatan, with representatives from the evacuees in Caraga and Bukidnon, raised the issue of internally displaced persons or internal refugees before the diplomatic missions of the European Union, Spain, France, and Netherlands to the Philippines.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan spokesperson said that, “the European Union representatives are aware that the Philippines will go through the second cycle of review in the UPR. They promised the evacuees that they will look into the issues we have raised and will study the possible steps they will take.”

The evacuees raised the issue of intense military combat operations and bombings in peasant and indigenous communities and the consequent forced evacuations; the threat of displacement due to the entry of large-scale mining operations.

Karapatan also brought to the attention of the EU the alarming trend of human rights violations involving minors such as extrajudicial killings (EJKs), rape, illegal arrests and detention, and indiscriminate firing, among others, due to the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan.

With the Karapatan lobby group was Sharon Liguyon, wife of the slain indigenous leader Jimmy Liguyon of Bgy. Dao in San Fernando, Bukidnon. Sharon Liguyon appealed for help for the immediate arrest of Alde Salusad, leader of a paramilitary group closely associated with the military. Salusad remains at large while Liguyon’s clan left the community and evacuated to the provincial capital because of death threats from Salusad’s group. The EU representatives said they had previously expressed their concern on the death of Liguyon.

“The intensifying rights violations, including EJKs, forced evacuation due to intense military operations and transgressions on children’s rights, just goes to show the accountability of Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino in continuing the terror and violence perpetuated by the previous Arroyo administration,” Palabay said. Karapatan gave an individual submission to the UNHRC for the UPR of the Philippines and it will likewise lead a delegation of people’s and faith-based organizations when the review sessions in Geneva, Switzerland will be conducted in May 29, 2012. Karapatan’s submission may be read through the link:

The evacuees from Caraga and Bukidnon also met with the Sec. Jesse Robredo of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), with Commissioner Mamawag of the Commission on Human Rights and Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr., chairperson of the House Committee on National Cultural Communities, to bring to their attention the negligence and the inhumane treatment of officials from their regional counterparts.

The meetings with the EU, DILG and CHR were among the series of activities the 10-person delegation from Caraga and Bukidnon in Manila to bring the issue of internal displacement to the attention of the national government and also to gather the support of various non-government organizations based in Metro Manila.

This morning, the delegation together with the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) will conduct a picket-dialogue at the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). Tomorrow, they will join workers led by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) for the Labor Day rallies. ###


Bakwet: Refugees in their own land

Stories of internal refugees from Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, Bukidnon

There is no Ondoy or Sendong, no landslide, no floods. Yet, there is displacement of people and dislocation of people’s economic activities. People are forced to leave their communities and their livelihood, children stop schooling and seek temporary shelter in evacuation centers, making women and children more vulnerable. They are victims of terror and violence by the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ military operations, of bombings and airstrikes. They are refugees in their own land.

They are here in Manila to share their stories with you.

From Caraga region:

Datu Jalandoni Campos, Chairperson of Malahutayong Panaghiusa Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), a Lumad-Manobo organization, and Genasque Enriquez, Secretary General of Kahugpong sa Lumadnong Organisasyon (KASALO), CARAGA-wide organization of Lumad.

Datu Jalandoni belongs to the second of three generations of Lumad leaders who, almost yearly, lead his people to seek temporary shelter away from their ancestral lands to ensure the safety of their fellow Manobos from the military. Genasque shares the same history of displacement with Datu Jalandoni. He is among the young leaders of Lumad in Mindanao. Several times, he has dodged, with the help of his fellow Lumad, attempts by the military to either arrest or abduct him.

Both are involved in building and developing their communities through various self-help projects that include putting up indigenous people’s schools for their children, only to find their efforts subjects of military attacks. Jalandoni and his fellow Manobos believe that the military’s activities are meant to clear the area for mining operations. Theirs is a story of building and rebuilding their lives amidst the turmoil created by military presence and activities in their lands.

Antolin Gimo, member of KAMASS-KMP, a local organization of peasants from Mahaba, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur. Antolin’s peasant community is targeted for coal and nickel mining operations that is reportedly going to start soon. The people of Bgy. Mahaba went through a series of forcibleevacuation from their homes in 2006 and yearly, from 2009 to the present. On March 2011, elements from the 29th and 23rd IBPA launched air and land reconnaissance missions against the NPA, shelling the areas around the communities.

Bebeth Calinawan Enriquez, member of Butuan City-RTR-Cabadbaran City-Tubay Intermunicipal Mamanwa Organization (APOGAN), a local Mamanwa organization from Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte. She is among the 215 families who fled their homes in March this year due a series of bombings and strafing. Canons were stationed in the middle of the fields, only about 20 meters away from the houses. The Mamanwa are still in evacuation centers in Butuan City, and neighboring barangays, away from their homes and livelihood. On September 2011, Bebeth Calinawan was shot at by the military, detained, and was presented by the military to the media as a victim of the NPAs landmines. Bebeth is also a witness to the hard life in the evacuation centers: of post-traumatic stress, the lack of food, of sleeping on cold cemented floors, of sickness affecting the evacuees, of the government’s lack of response and rejection of their pleas.

Balodoy Inano, also an internal refugee who was among the three victims of the military’s strafing. The strafing caused the evacuation of the people from Sitio Omao, Brgy. Camam-onan, Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte. Balodoy and the two others who were with him were suspected as members of the NPA while they were gathering woods in the forests of Sitio Omao. With Balodoy is Datu Balbino Iligan who belongs to the indigenous Mamanwa, also from Camam-onan, Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte. Datu Balibino, along with other Mamanwa were strafed by the military while they were fleeing from their homes to seek shelter elsewhere. The military is now looking for Datu Balbino for his alleged connection with the NPA. Datu Balbino heads the community that is supposedly a beneficiary of the 1% royalty share from Taganito Mining Corporation.

The militarized areas of Agusan and Surigao are the same areas targeted for mining exploration and operation.

From Northern Mindanao area:

Sharon Liguyon, wife of slain indigenous leader Jimmy Liguyon. She was in the kitchen when Liguyon was shot inside his house by Alde Salusad, a member New Indigenous People’s Army Reform (NIPAR), a paramilitary force closely associated to the 8th IB-PA stationed in Halapitan, San Fernando, Bukidnon. Salusad admitted that he killed Liguyon because he refused to sign a certification for Sanmatrida or The San Fernando Matigsalog Tribal Datu Association. Sanmatrida is facilitating the entry of mining companies in the ancestral lands of the Lumad. Sharon is among those who lost their loved ones due to extrajudicial killing believed to be largely perpetrated by paramilitary forces attached to the military. The P-Noy government has encouraged the creation of paramilitary groups as force multipliers in securing destructive large scale mining operations.

Maritess Bulawan, chairperson of Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Kibawe (Namaki) in Kibawe, Bukidnon. Maritess is among the peasant leaders in Kibawe who actively oppose the building of the Pulangi mega-Dam-V that will drown peasant communities. She was involved in the negotiations with local traders from whom they get their farm inputs and to whom they sell their produce. On April 1, 183 families from the town of Maritess evacuated when the military, using two tora-tora planes, dropped 14 bombs that affected three barangays. One civilian, according to Maritess was wounded by bomb splinter. The military also occupied a public elementary school. Maritess believes that the military operation was a retaliation to the previous encounter with the NPA. But as in many other instances, the military train their guns against the civilians. As an active peasant leader, Maritess has caught the ire of the military.

Jomorito Goaynon is the chairperson of Kalumbay, regional Lumad organization. He belongs to the Higaonon tribe. Jomorito echoes the voice of the indigenous people in the different communities in Northern Mindanao, especially against destructive large-scale mining operations. According to Jomorito, the whole of Dao, Jimmy Liguyon’s community is rich in high grade gold. Thus, it is not surprising that mining companies are interested in their ancestral lands. Jomorito attributes the killing of Liguyon to the entry of mining companies in Dao. Jomorito has, himself, received death threats because of his advocacy for the rights of indigenous peoples and against largescale destructive mining operations.

publicinfo [at] karapatan [dot] org

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.