Lumad leaders shot; one killed, village chief in critical condition

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 July) – Armed men riding a motorcycle in tandem fired at Lumad leaders who were also riding in tandem at around 2 p.m. Friday, killing one while the village chief, son of a Datu killed in 2008, is still fighting for his life in a hospital here.

Jay Apiag, spokesperson of the human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao told MindaNews that Danny Diarog, vice chair of the Kahugpungan sa mga Lumad (KSL) and tribal chieftain of Sitio Kahusayan in Barangay Manuel Guianga, underwent surgery for bullet wounds in various parts of his body while his companion, Hermie Alegre, president of the Parent-Teacher Community Association (PTCA) of Salugpungan School, died before reaching the hospital.

“Tinadtad ng bala” (He was peppered with bullets), Apiag told MindaNews late Friday evening.

Apiag said Diarog and Alegre, both members of the Bagobo-Klata tribe, had just attended a meeting called for by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Barangay Tagakpan in Tugbok District and were on their way home, with Diarog driving the motorcycle and Alegre behind him, when fired upon some two kilometers away from their barangay.

He said Alegre was not supposed to attend the meeting but was sent by Marcelo Gillego who could not make it.

Diarog’s father, Datu Dominador, then 47, was killed on April 29, 2008 in Sitio Kahusayan. Armed men indiscriminately fired at their house on a hill near midnight, killing the Datu. His wife and two of his nine children were wounded.

The Datu refused to sell what was left of their ancestral domain to Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s Kingdom of Jesus Christ The Name Above Every Name, which was then building a prayer mountain. A series of harassments reportedly followed.

In a statement issued after he was implicated in the Datu’s death, Quiboloy, spiritual adviser of then mayor Rodrigo Duterte, said they “do not wish to dignify the initial reports linking our congregation to the unfortunate incident that happened in a nearby barangay adjacent to the covenant mountain and prayer center in Tamayong,” claiming these are “totally false and baseless, if not ridiculous.”

“Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte as the ‘Father of Davao City,’ who has direct control over the political jurisdiction of the city, has spoken, dismissing the rumors as untrue,” the statement of Quiboloy read.

Duterte told his Sunday television program, “Gikan Sa Masa, Para sa Masa (From the Masses, for the Masses), that he has known Quiboloy “for the longest time,” even before he was mayor, saw him rise from pastor of a kapilya (chapel) to his flock now, seen his property outside the country but more than that, the Pastor is “a gentle person.”

“Dili ko mutuo nga si pastor who has by this time billions” (I cannot believe that the Pastor who has by this time billions), would sacrifice his honor for a “measly two hectares.”

But Duterte warned against being misconstrued. If there is evidence against the Pastor, he said, addressing Quiboloy, “You do not cease to be my friend. I will still be your friend until kingdom come… but you answer for this.”

Open letter

In a “sulat pamahayag” (open letter) dated May 28, 2015, Diarog, then KSL Secretatry-General, said their rights have long been trampled upon by influential persons who disturbed their peace with the continued “pagpangilog” (grabbing) of their ancestral domain.

The open letter said they are still waiting for justice for Datu Dominador Diarog who was slain in 2008, that their community continues to suffer from threats and harassments, allegedly from armed men connected to the religious leader, a claim Quiboloy denies.

“Nabalaka kami niini nga kahimtang nga moabot ang panahon nga wala na kami ikabilin sa among kaliwatan” (We are afraid that time will come when our tribe will be gone forever),” the letter said.

The letter also cited what happened on January 23, 2014 when 40 families were forced out of Sitio Diolo, through threats and intimidation.

They urged all agencies in government and other organizations to help them return to their communities.

The letter demanded that the NCIP and Davao City Council and other government agencies investigate the “padayong pag-ilog sa among yutang kabilin ug komunidad diha sa sitio Diolo” (continued takeover of our ancestral domain and community in Sitio Diolo); to investigate and disarm the armed group that has been sowing terror in the Lumad communities and to get them out of there; that the damages from the burning of their things and their crops be paid; that the planting of pine trees in their ancestral domain be stopped; that their community be returned to them; and that the threats and intimidation against the Lumads be stopped. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)