Manobo activist disappeared while with Consunji company guards, feared dead

Source: 
News Release - http://karapatan.org/Manobo+activist+disappeared
Date of publication: 
15 May, 2015

An officer of organization Kisasabanay Dulangan Manobo (KIDUMA) was invited inside the Consunji compound in Brgy. Sabanal, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat and never came out.

“We demand from the BS Aquino government to immediately surface John Calaba and hold members of the paramilitary group SCAA (Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary) and Consunji accountable for his disappearance,” Lorena Santos, secretary general of Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos) said.

John Calaba is the Public Information Officer of KIDUMA, an organization opposed to the logging and mining projects of David M. Consunji, Inc (DMCI), which displaced peasants and Manobo tribes away from their farms and ancestral land. The SCAA, created especially for the protection of mining companies, serves as Consunji’s company guards.

In the morning of April 30, 2015, Calaba, 28, was sitting in front of his house at Brgy. Salangsang, Lebak, Sultan Kudarat when members of the Consunji company guards namely, Christopher dela Cruz, Loloy Aquino and Jayjay Cruz approached him. The men invited Calaba to the outpost of Consunji guards at Brgy. Sabanal to eat roasted chicken. Calaba went with them. Prior to the incident, the guards have been persistent in befriending Calaba.

Timoteo Asong, a worker at the water reservoir also owned by the Consunji Company saw Calaba at the outpost eating. Calaba even invited Asong to eat with them. Some 20 minutes later, Asong heard gunfire coming from the outpost. The sporadic gunfire lasted until around 10:00 am.

When the villagers went to the outpost, the guards shouted not to get near claiming there are “enemies” and they might get caught in the crossfire. The villagers were told to go home. At around 10:30 a.m., when the gunfire subsided, Marcial Usong, also a resident at Sitio Salabantaran saw six company guards near the outpost, carrying something wrapped in canvass and was loaded into an elf truck. The elf truck left a trail of blood.

“Residents, however, had the impression there was no real fire fight between the company guards and whomever they considered their enemy,” said Santos. Since April 30, nobody has seen John Calaba come out from said outpost.

“Efforts to get more details on the incident and to check on a report that a resident in a nearby village saw a corpse buried are hampered by the heavy presence of military and company guards,” added Santos.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, specifically the 38th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army, train the members of the SCAA.

Reference: Lorena Santos, secretary general
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