At least 17 villages in Talaingod such as Tibukag, Purok 31, Paiton, Purok 17, Dalingding, Tibugaw, Natampod, Labuo, Duryan, Tambuko, Mahindang, Nalubas, Lasakan, Sasu, Bagang, Pongpong and Nasilaban were gravely affected by the said military operations.
"We demand the immediate pull out of these bloodthirsty military elements from Talaingod. Base on the reports reaching PASAKA, over the last 15 days, the counter-insurgency operations of government troops have sown terror in Talaingod by encamping in the homes and schools in barrio centers in almost all the Ata-Manobo communities in Talaingod," PASAKA chairperson Mel Elio said.
Lumad local residents confirmed that during these military encampment and combat operations, farm animals were divested and slaughtered, lumad farm houses together with their farm rice and seeds were destroyed and burnt down, water gallons of the local residents were urinated and left with fecal. The lumad residents also protested that their money, salt, tobacco (trisbi), knives and bolos were divested.
After the encounter between the government and rebel forces last January 13 in Sitio Sasu, Brgy. Palma Gil, lumad residents are now suffering the reprisals coming from the military. Lumad women were being harassed and even datus (lumad leaders) like Datu Kolorot and Datu Ele were disrespected as their properties were also destroyed.
According to Osting Dawsay of Salupongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon, the local lumad organization in Talaingod “ang mga lumad sa Sitio Lasakan gibawalan sa mga sundalo nga molakaw ug muadto sa ilang uma aron mangalot og lagutmon sulod sa tulo ka adlaw maong wala silay kaon ug grabe nga nagutman gani adunay lima ka bulan nga bata nga ginganlan og Kalyawa ang namatay sa kagutom.” (“In Sitio Lasakan, the residents were prevented to go to their farm for three days that they have nothing to eat and were left hungry. A 5-month old baby named Kalyawa reportedly died due to hunger.”)
According to the press statement sent by Salugpongan to PASAKA, the situation has become so unbearable that residents left their farms and homes and trooped to other baranggays as far as Bukidnon. Others opted to hide in the thick forests of the Pantaron Range to evade the anger of the military.
The statement further said that the tribal leaders and members of Salupongan are alarmed by the recent atrocity. The leaders feared that their people are not safe from the abuses of the government soldiers. The incidents, particularly the destruction and divestments of properties, harassment and grave threats and the aerial bombings, has since disrupted their communities; particularly their livelihood, production and the children’s learning activities.
Salupongan also condemned the on-going militarization which they attribute to their strong opposition against the Integrated Forestry Management Agreement (IFMA) logging project that has yet again threatened to intrude their ancestral domain.
Manoling Tingkas, spokesperson of Salupongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon said that instead of denying the abusive military operations in Talaingod, Military Officials must heed their call to stop targeting civilian populace in the course of their military operations, indemnify and give justice to the victims. "Dili nila malimod ang ilang gipangbuhat nga kalapasan sa among tribo tungod kay daghan gayod kaming mga gipangbiktima nila, ubay-ubay na ang namakwit tungod sa kahadlok ug kasamok nga gilunsad sa mga sundalo. Nagahangyo kami nga unta maimbistigahan sa hinanaling panahon kining panghitabo sa among lugar nga nakadala og dakong alaot kanamong mga lumad nga unta kami nagapangingkamot nga manimuyo sa kalinaw ug nag-amgo og tiunay nga kalamboan sa among tribo."
The Ata Manobo victims will be filing formal complaints against the abusive military soldiers who are accountable for the atrocities happening in their area. They are also calling for the intervention of the local government leaders as well as the provincial officials of Davao del Norte to intercede, investigate and immediately stop the on-going militarization in Talaingod.
"The rise of the human rights violation incidents against indigenous peoples shows the Arroyo government’s blatant disregard to our basic human rights and right to self-determination. The massive and systematic attack on Talaingod violates International Humanitarian Law. We are urging the concerned government agencies to immediately probe deeper into this matter, prosecute the perpetrators, indemnify and bring justice to the Ata-Manobo victims in Talaingod town," Elio concluded.###
Salupongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Spokesperson
Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao
c/o Diakonia Center, IFI Compound, F. Torres St., Davao City
Tel Number: 305-0824 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org