January 26, 2015
National alliance of indigenous peoples’ group Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan (KAMP) expressed “serious concern” over rights violations committed against indigenous peoples in Agusan del Sur.
Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of KAMP, said that the human rights violations against the Banwaon people in the mountains of Agusan del Sur escalated after the military’s alleged killing of Necasio “Angis” Precioso Sr on December 22, the first day of the suspension of military operations declared by the AFP.
Precioso was the barangay captain of Bilit, San Luis, Agusan del Sur and a defender of the Banwaon people’s rights.
“Kapitan Angis was a beloved defender of the Banwaon tribe. His killing is an atrocity that the indigenous people will not forget. We demand swift justice. The lumad people in had vowed to avenge his killing, and will not stop until the perpetrators are put to justice,” Malayao said.
Precioso was one of the founders of local indigenous peoples’ organization Tagdumahan, a member organization of KAMP.
The rights violations against indigenous peoples in the area where Precioso was killed continue and is escalating according to Malayao.
“The operations of the 26th IBPA in La Paz, Agusan del Sur and nearby communities is causing many forms of human rights violations such as harassments and illegal searches. Some of the Banwaon are forced to leave their homes and communities to escape the combat operations,” Malayao claimed.
There are 174 families comprising 914 individuals in the evacuation center in Barangay Balit, San Luis, Agusan Sur today, and fifty of them are sick, Malayao said.
String of terror, rights violations
The night before his killing on December 21, Precioso reportedly had a row with MSgt. Andres Villaganas of the Philippine Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion. The village chief demanded the military to pull-out from the community, as encampment of military forces in civilian zones is a violation of international humanitarian law.
Precioso was gunned down by motorcycle-riding gunmen while walking with his son the following day.
Terrorism followed the village captain’s killing, Malayao said.
On December 24, 2014 an unidentified dead body was found in Sitio Tabon-Tabon Barangay Mahagsay. In fear, the community evacuated a week later on December 31.
On January 3, 2015 a house of a resident in Sitio Tabo-Tabon was burned down by unidentified perpetrators.
On January 23, 2015 families from the sub villages of Kimambukagyang, Tabon-tabon, Tabanganan, Nakadayas, Pig-ulingan, Mimpalaos, Maputi, Kandiisan, Tambo and KM 48 evacuated. The next day, on January 24, families from Sitio Agduka evacuated to Barangay Balit.
“There is a clear attempt to terrorize the indigenous peoples in the area. The killing of Angis and the following terrorism by the AFP is devised to repress the indigenous peoples’ demand for their rights to land. Kapitan Angis was the epitome of this struggle of the Banwaon people’s struggle,” Malayao said.
The Banwaon people are protesting against the operations of several mining corporations that will encroach on their ancestral lands. Malampay, Makilala and Tambuli mining companies are set to operate in San Luis, La Paz and Talacogon villages in the borderlines of Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur.
Currently, the lumad evacuees at barangay Balit, San Luis, Agusan del Sur are in need of immediate humanitarian aid.
“The Banwaon people are in dire need of food, clothing, and medicine. Many are getting sick in the cramped evacuation site. This is an escalating humanitarian crisis that will only cease if the military will pull-out of the indigenous people’s communities,” Malayao said.