Agusan del Sur town officials, Lumad leaders mull libel complaint vs vlogger

Datu Bulubagyo Carlos Otacan, Municipal Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative to the town council of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur (speaking) says the tribal councils of Higanonon, Banwaon, and Manobo communities will pass a resolution declaring vlogger Ike Rubio Gavileno as persona non grata in their town. Photo courtesy of Municipal Information Office of Esperanza

ESPERANZA, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 25 May) – Lumad leaders and local officials of this town are planning to lodge a cyber libel complaint against a vlogger for accusing them of being involved in illegal drugs, among other allegations.

The vlogger aired his live commentaries against Mayor Deo Manpatilan Jr, tribal leaders, and officials of two villages on his Facebook accounts using the names “Ike Gavelino” and “Gavelino E. Rubio.”

Gavileno, who claimed to be a resident of Quezon City and the leader of a group he called United Indigenous Peoples of LuzViMinda (short for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao), accused Manpatilan of not helping the poor Lumad in his town, maintaining a private army, involvement in illegal drugs, and of supporting the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA).

He also accused Piglawigan village chieftain Nilo Guillarte of selling lands he (Gavileno) claimed belong to the Wayoy Clan as ancestral lands, bringing along heavily-armed bodyguards to harass clan members living in their community, and as an NPA supporter.

He added that leaders in neighboring Lumad communities were in cahoots with Manpatilan and Guillarte.

Responding to a direct message from MindaNews on Facebook, the vlogger said his real name is 

Ike Rubio Gavileno and claimed he belongs to the Sugbuwanon Hiligaynon tribe.

Sugbuwanon refers to a resident of Cebu (old name Sugbu) while Hiligaynon is a variant of the language spoken by Ilongos.

Gavileno did not answer when asked if he could substantiate his allegations, and has deleted his Ike Gavileno account.

The officials have downloaded the videos containing Gavileno’s accusations and showed them during the press conference.

Teddy Manpatilan, head of the tribal affairs unit at the mayor’s office, said in a press conference Wednesday that they are contemplating filing a cyber libel complaint against the vlogger after finding out his real identity.

Teddy refuted the vlogger’s claims that the local government and indigenous people’s councils do not have an Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP) saying the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title No. 255 covering 20 villages in Esperanza had already formulated it.

For his part, Guillarte denied harassing Wayoy clan members to grab their lands. He said their village already had residents who owned farmlands with legal titles before the passage of Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.

Datu Kampilan Floro Engag, a Higaonon tribal chieftain of Langag village has clarified there were already 55 land titles issued by the government in 1955, long before the Wayoy Clan started to claim their ancestral lands.

Datu Kahusay Milbert Agosto, a leader of the Wayoy Clan, said “Mr. Ike” came in 2020 urging them to claim their ancestral lands but later learned he was driven by personal interest.

“I am disgusted to watch him doing all the false tirades against the mayor and many other leaders,” Agosto said.

Erwin Dumaguing, a former Army soldier said the mayor’s father, former mayor Datu Mankombate Deo Manpatilan Sr, worked out the enlistment of at least 44 Higaonon warriors into the Army to fight the communist rebels.

From 2004 to 2010, Dumauing was a team leader of the military’s Task Force Salakawan tasked to neutralize NPA rebels in all Higaonon villages of Esperanza.

Randy Manpatilan, another staffer at the tribal affairs unit, said the Manpatilan clan has been staunch anti-communist advocates that mayor Datu Mansaulog Lavi Manpatilan was gunned down by NPA hitmen while attending a wedding at a Catholic chapel in Butuan City in the 1980s. (Chris V. Panganiban/MindaNews)