De Guzman calls on other presidential bets to support and defend IP rights

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
De Guzman calls on other presidential bets to support and defend IP rights
Partido Lakas ng Masa presidential bet Leody de Guzman with members of the Manobo Pulangiyon community.
PLM's senate candidate David D'Angelo

MANILA, Philippines (Corrected 6:52 p.m.)— Labor leader Leody de Guzman, Partido Lakas ng Masa presidential bet, on Tuesday called on other presidential candidates to stand with indigenous peoples and help them assert their rights.

De Guzman and other PLM candidates were in Quezon, Bukidnon to check on alleged land grabbing and the ancestral domain of the Manobo-Pulangiyon community when they were shot at by unknown assailants.

"Tulungan natin, ilagay natin sa konkretong mga aksyon ang ating mga pagkilala at pagrespeto sa karapatan ng ating mga katutubo," De Guzman said in a briefing.

(Let’s help and let’s put into concrete actions how we recognize and respect the rights of our indigenous peoples.)

READ: Four hurt as gunshots disrupt meeting between Ka Leody, Manobo community on land issues

"Simula siguro ay manawagan kayo na dapat ay panagutin ‘yung mga kapulisan na namaril kanina at the same time kundinahin ‘yung karahasan na ‘yun," De Guzman said.

(Maybe you can begin by holding accountable the cops who fired shots earlier and at the same time condemn the violent incident.)

He also said other candidates can call on other government agencies to properly implement the law and to give the IPs the ancestral land that should have been theirs in the first place.

Land disputes

The PLM bets’ campaign brought them to Bukidnon, where they met with the Manobo community to discuss land grabbing issues on their ancestral domain.

"Yung 900 hectares ng kanilang ancestral domain had been occupied forcibly by Mayor Lorenzo and his goons and after several years of illegal occupation, they were determined to take their land back,"  vice-presidential candidate Walden Bello of Laban ng Masa said during the briefing.

Bello was not in Bukidnon during the incident on Tuesday afternoon, but he said he also talked to the community Monday night.

The vice-presidential candidate was referring to Quezon Mayor Pablo Lorenzo, who was allegedly behind the land grabbing.

The Manobo community was reportedly displaced from their own land after partnerships with their lessees lapsed. Senatorial bet Roy Cabonegro reported that those who leased the ancestral land refused to give it back.

Ancestral domain is collectively owned by the IP community and any developments and projects on the land require their free and prior informed consent.

The community has also been waiting for the release of their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) for six years.

"Bagamat ito naman po ay dapat hindi problema dahil ang usapin po ng pagmamay-ari ng indigenous people ay hindi naman po ito dina-doubt pa ngayon. Ang hawak po nila ay CADC (Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim), ‘yan po ay kapareho lamang halos ng CADT,” Cabonegro said.

(While this should not be a problem because the issue of ownership of indigenous people is in doubt. What they have now is a CADC, which is almost the same as a CADT.)

Cabonegro also stressed that the state does not have the right to the ancestral domains owned by IPs. But, the Manobo community had been evicted and they ended up living on the side of the road, where at least four children have gotten hit by cars passing by.

Out of the 900 hectares of their land, the Manobos have attempted to re-occupy four hectares.

No warning shots

At least five were injured after gunshots disrupted the candidates' visit, the group said. They did not receive a warning and the first shot fired hit Nanie Abella, a community leader of farmers and farmworkers.

“‘Yun ang nagpatumba agad sa kanya (That’s what made him fall right away),” De Guzman said, who was standing next to Abella. They said the shooting lasted for 15 minutes.

The group said there were women and children, senior citizens, along with other volunteers during the incident.

One of the leaders of the community who stood his ground was shot in the back, which Cabonegro said was an "attempted murder."

David D’Angelo caught it on video because he was streaming their meeting live on Facebook, saying he was already worried about what would happen.

Those wounded were rushed to the Bukidnon Provincial Hospital. Datu Didilusan Arroyo and members of the indigenous community Bae Charita Anglao Del Socorro, Orlando Lingaolingao, and Eger Dabatian sustained injuries from the incident.

De Guzman said everyone has since received first aid and that no case was fatal. However, one of those injured might need an x-ray to make sure that no stray bullets were left in the body.

Cabonegro said there were no representatives from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples during the incident earlier, despite showing up at a consultation with the community last night.

He also said the case has been reported to the Commission on Human Rights. However, he also called out the commission for not being present even if they knew that the community will be showing up at their ancestral domain today.

"Sabi ko naman ‘yung trabaho, hindi lang dokumentasyon ng human rights. Kailangan rin kayo mag-witness para maging deterrant ng human rights violations, hindi kayo dumating dun kanina," Cabonegro said.

(The work does not only involve documenting human rights. You also need to be there to witness [and] be a deterrent of human rights violations. You did come.)


Through a statement from acting presidential spokesman Martin Andanar, Malacañang said it condemns the shooting of IPs earlier in Bukidnon.

"We urge the local authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and prosecute those behind this dastardly act," Andanar said. 

Meanwhile, several senatorial candidates backed De Guzman and the Monobo community. Luke Espirutu, who is running under PLM, has called for justice for indigenous peoples and has asked capitalists and the military to leave ancestral domains.

Bayan Muna Chairperson Neri Colmenares and detained senator Leila de Lima both called for an immediate investigation. This sentiment was echoed by another senatorial candidate, Chel Diokno, who said: “An independent investigation is necessary to identify those responsible & hold them accountable for their action.”  

Labor leader and senate candidate Elmer Labog shared a screenshot of his Messenger chat conversation with De Guzman, where he shared his sympathies for those injured.

“Kung kaya nila gawin ito sa isang presidential candidate ay mas madali nila ito gawin sa pangkaraniwang mga kababayan natin dito,” Labog said. 

(If they can do it to a presidential candidate, it will be easier for them to do it to common people.)

When De Guzman was asked during the briefing if he felt like he was being targeted, the PLM presidential bet said he can’t really say since he is not from the area. "But the reality is, the first shot hit the person I was next to," De Guzman said in Filipino.

Meanwhile, poll watchdog Kontra Daya said it "denounces [the] apparent case of election-related violence." Convenor Danilo Arao is calling on the Commission on Elections to investigate the incident in Bukidnon.

Human rights organization Karapatan called the incident a “shameless attack” for targetting communities trying to assert their rights on their ancestral land.

"Kami po ay safe pero ‘yung mga Manobo dun ngayong gabi ang hindi safe (We are safe but the Manobo people there tonight are not safe)," Cabonegro said, calling on state agencies to ensure their protection.




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