DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 Apr) – On the second day of their march for justice and land, at least 300 Bagobo K’lata lumads and farmers from sitio Kahusayan in barangay Guianga will spend the night at the Mintal Gym before they proceed to Davao City tomorrow, Friday, protesting against the encroachment of their ancestral land.
The lumads, who stopped for lunch in Calinan Thursday to spend the night in Mintal, will finally cover the 30-kilometer distance as they march towards Ulas, Bangkal, Matina up to downtown Davao on Friday, the third day of their protest, to stage pockets of rallies at the regional offices of the Commission on Human Rights and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
“Pushed farther down, where are we to go?” asked Diolito Diarog, deputy secretary general of the Pasaka regional lumad confederation and council member of the Kahugpungan sa mga Lumad sa Kahusayan (KSL).
He said in a statement three backhoes arrived in sitio Kahusayan on the second week of April this year allegedly to start the construction of the road leading to the nearby Prayer Mountain of Pastor Apollo Quibuloy of the religious group Jesus Christ the Kingdom Above Every Name.
Diarog said they were shocked when the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) did not do anything to stop the alleged expansion of the evangelical pastor’s landholdings which already covered more than 20 hectares of protected land in Mt. Apo.
“We call on the DENR to take a decisive action,” said Diarog, the nephew of the slain lumad leader Datu Dominador Diarog.
Diarog said the Bagobo-K’latas have already been pushed farther down Mt. Apo’s foothills and have lost their sources of livelihood as a result of the Prayer Mountain’s expansion.
“What kind of a system allows human beings from being displaced from their lands in the name of a restored garden of Eden, pine trees, and now, a gherkins plantation? Where is justice when below that towering kingdom, the people are hungry, driven away from their lands?” asked
He said close to 200 farmers will join their ranks in Davao City to demand for their rights.
He also said residents were alarmed over the deployment of 84th Infantry Battalion soldiers in Kahusayan. Residents complained they have been forced to join as watch guards of the peace and development team that the 10th Infantry Division deployed in the area as part of
the Bayanihan counterinsurgency program.
“The lakbayan shows our unity in defending our ancestral land,” he said. “We are stewards of Mt. Apo and we have a rightful claim to these lands but are being driven away by a greedy landlord with the help of the Army,” Diarog said.
He said that his uncle’s murder three years ago serves as an inspiration behind the lakbayan (march).
“Datu Dominador Diarog’s murder three years ago showed the greed of a landlord who masterminded the killing,” said the nephew of the slain leader. The datu was killed on April 29, 2008 when he refused repeated offer to sell their ancestral land for a mere P50,000.
Diarog said the march, or lakbayan, is the first of its kind in Davao since the 1990s. He also said the killing of their leader had won them public sympathy.
Diarog said that years after the construction of the prayer mountain, the Bagobo-K’latas have been forced to sell their lands. “Those who refuse found their homes surrounded by barbed wired fences, losing their access to farms and water sources,” he said. (Germelina Lacorte/ MindaNews)