Another dialogue set to tackle plight of Lumad evacuees

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 January) – Human rights groups and relatives of the Lumad evacuees staying at the Haran compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) will hold another dialogue with government officials and church leaders on the demands of the evacuees before they may return home, UCCP Bishop Hamuel Tequis said on Sunday.

Tension escalated at the UCCP Haran compound along Fr. Selga Street in Davao City on Saturday , January 25, 2020, when alleged relatives of Lumad families from Kapalong and Talaingod, Davao del Norte and San Fernando in Bukidnon, barged through the evacuation center. The Pasaka Group Confederation of Lumads claimed the alleged relatives were  members of the Alamara, a paramilitary group. Photo by BING GONZALES of Mindanao Times

In an interview, Tequis said both camps have yet to set the date for the meeting where members of the Regional Peace and Order Council, Lumad leaders, City Mayor Sara Duterte, Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib and church representatives are expected to participate.

The bishop reiterated the evacuees’ demand for a military pullout from their communities and the disbandment of the paramilitary group Alamara.

He said Davao City Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, who came to mediate the initial discussion on Saturday afternoon, had committed to assist in the negotiation so that both camps could arrive at a “win-win solution” acceptable to both parties.

“Nag mediate lang ko to make sure dili mag kagubot atong negotiation. Naay gamay nga tension, luckily walay nahitabo nga altercation (I only mediated to make sure it would be orderly. There was a little tension but luckily there was no altercation),” he said.

He said Lumad evacuees had not decided if they would return home or stay at the evacuation center.

He said their possible return would be tackled in the next dialogue.

Tequis said the outcome of Saturday’s negotiation turned out positive.

He said both parties agreed that the issues between the evacuees and their relatives who stormed the evacuation center on Saturday morning be resolved among them customarily with no interference from the military.

He said both Lumad camps asked Mayor Duterte and Governor Jubahib to sit down with them in the dialogue.

He said the evacuees’ relatives returned home to Kapalong and Talaingod, Davao del Norte after the initial dialogue.

But he added they might press charges against the police for failing to prevent the evacuees’ relatives from destroying the fence of the church when they barged inside the church compound. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)