AI condemns killing of lumad child; urges full gov’t probe

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/ 06 September)–– Amnesty International (AI) has condemned Tuesday’s attack on a Subanen tribal chieftain in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, which led to the death of his 11-year old child.

Dr. Aurora Parong, AI Philippines director, also called for a full government investigation on the attack against Timuay Lucenio Manda, who was injured after an ambush by still unidentified assailants. Manda’s son Jordan was killed in the incident.

“The killing of Jordan Manda, groomed to be the next Timuay (leader), is a painful reminder that indigenous peoples are not protected,” Parong stressed in a phone interview.

She said that Manda’s concern on the Subanen’s ancestral domain and his position for a mining moratorium in his town might have motivated the attack.

Parong said that the lumads have been “invisible in the eyes of the government and local authorities,” despite human rights abuses they experienced in defense of their lands.

She urged the Aquino government to take action now and further investigate the alleged human rights violations not just among the Subanens but also other lumads groups throughout the country.

Newly-appointed Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas should instruct the Philippine National Police to investigate the attack on Manda, Parong said, lamenting that there seemed to be national government neglect even with the many complaints from the Subanens.

Our government should defend human rights defenders from grassroots indigenous communities, she said.

Parong said her group also wants the Commission on Human Rights and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to help out in the investigation.

According to AI, harassments allegedly by personnel of Toronto Ventures Inc. Resource Development (TVIRD) have been recorded in July.

It was reported by the police that Wilbert Catampungan was fatally wounded by gunfires coming from TVIRD blue guards, AI said.

TVIRD arrived in Bayog in 2006 and started exploring the area for gold and silver. The company has allegedly resorted to various forms of violence against other small-scale IP miners in the area.

TVIRD has vehemently denied it resorted to violence. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)