Lumad, rights groups mount fact-finding mission on disappearance of Manobo activist

By Dennis Arcon,
Date of publication: 
21 May, 2015

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Indigenous peoples’ and human rights groups have mounted a fact-finding mission to investigate the disappearance of a Manobo activist who was last seen in the company of militiamen guarding a private firm’s compound in the hinterlands of Lebak town, Sultant Kudarat.

Jerom Succor Aba, spokesman of Kawagib, or the Alliance for the Advancement of Moro Human Rights and one of the organizers, said the fact-finding mission began Wednesday and will end on Friday in Sitio Salabantaran, Barangay Salansang where John Calaba, 28, the missing public information officer of the Manobo organization KIDUMA, lived.

Other members of the mission are the Socsargen chapter of the human rights alliance Karapatan and KIDUMA.

An earlier alert by the rights group Desparecidos said Calaba, whose organization has been opposing the entry of mining and logging operations within their ancestral lands, was last seen on April 30, when he was invited by members of the Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary to their outpost at the DM Consunji Inc. compound in Barangay Sabanal, also in Lebak, supposedly to eat roast chicken.

The SCAA is a category of government militia that private firms are allowed to raise for protection.

Desaparecidos feared Calaba may have been killed after a witness reported hearing gunfire from the SCAA outpost and seeing militiamen carrying a bundle wrapped in canvas that they loaded onto a truck.