Sunday, April 11, 2021

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    4 Higaonon Datus face trumped-up murder charges

    Four Datus (indigenous chieftains), along with eight other members of the Higaonon community in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon, face murder charges at the start of 2016.

    Bendiho “Datu Mahurel” Ampildon, Lonie “Datu Manlalaban” Licunan, Bebe “Datu Sandigan” Duco, Loloy “Datu Makiyobo” Ade, Ester Ade, Diden Landasan, Brando Ampildon, Benjack Angunao, Somar Ruiz, Bobby Tilucan, Erand Balanban, Villamor Diwanan received a complaint from the Provincial Prosecutors Office of Bukidnon charging them with the murder of Melody Dela Mance committed on April 14, 2012. According to Diden Ladasan, there were 9 other respondents in the complaint but they were not familiar with the names.

    The complainant, Dante G. Dela Mance, the brother of Melody, stated that the respondents participated in the planning and killing of his father. The cited witness, Therisa Santos, claimed that she know very well the respondents and accused them to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

    The victims denied the accusation of killing Melody Dela Mance, an act that had already been owned up to by the NPA.  The victims also said that they do not know of and have not attended any meetings to plan the killing of Melody Dela Mance. They also denied the accusations that they were members of the NPA.

    The 12 victims did not receive summons to submit counter-affidavits. The complaint was registered to have been sent from Malaybalay post office on December 15, 2015 and was recorded to have been received by the Cabanglasan post office on December 17, 2015. The respondents only got them on January 11, 2016. The respondents strongly believe that the serving of the subpoenas were intentionally delayed to deny them the due process of legally responding to the charges on time.

    The victims of this action by the Dela Mances are members of the Higaonon community in Cabanglasan and had been active in last year’s call to stop the killings of their Lumad brothers. Some respondents have been involved in the campaign of exposing the Dela Mance brothers’, who are members of the paramilitary group Alamara, involvement in the killings of at least eight indigenous individuals the previous year. They had also been involved in anti-mining, anti-plantation, and land rights protection campaigns. They summed up the filing of false charges as malicious and a form of political harassment. Diden Ladasan said that, “this is a futile attempt of the Dela Mance to weaken our resolve in the defense of our ancestral land.”

    Demand justice now!

    EXPRESS YOUR CONCERN to the Philippine Government by writing to:

    H.E. Benigno S. Aquino III
    President of the Republic of the Philippines
    Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
    E-mail: /

    Hon. Alfredo Benjamin Sabater Caguioa
    Secretary, Department of Justice

    Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
    Secretary, Department of National Defense
    Voice:+63(2) 911-6193, Fax:+63(2) 911-6213

    Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
    Chairperson, Commission On Human Rights
    Telefax: 929-0102, 928-5655, 926-6188

    Atty. Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo
    Chairperson, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
    Tel: 373-97-87

    Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III
    Chair, Justice and Human Rights Committee
    Philippine Senate
    Trunk Lines: (632) 552-6601 to 70 loc. 5548
    Direct Lines: (632) 822-9758
    Fax No.: (632) 822-9759

    Rep. Guillermo Romarate Jr.
    Chair, Human Rights Committee
    House of Representatives
    Tel: (632) 931-5001; local 7051, 9518974

    Hon. Renante I. Ocando
    Mayor, Municipality of Cabanglasan
    Tel.: 0917-718-7079

    Hon. Jose Ma. Zubiri, Jr.
    Governor, Province of Bukidnon
    Provincial Capitol, Malaybalay City
    Tel.: (088) 221-2523; (088) 813-3845

    Hon. Ignacio W. Zubiri
    Mayor, City of Malaybalay
    Tel.: (088) 221-2267

    Copy furnish your letters to

    Contact us at:
    Higala sa Lumad Network
    Room 01, Kalinaw Lanao Center for Interfaith Resources
    0016 Bougainvilla Puti, Villaverde
    9200 Iligan City, Philippines
    T/F: +63 (63) 223 5179

    Katungod Lumad Alert is published by the ‘Higala sa Lumad’ [Friends of the Lumad] Network.

    ‘Higala sa Lumad’ Network is a support group composed of a broad range of interfaith personalities/representative of organizations synergizing relevant capacities and resources for Lumad communities under attack. ‘Higala’ also serves as an informal monitoring network for Lumad human rights. ‘Higala’ has been established as a component of the ‘Healing the Hurt’ Project.

    Published with support from the European Commission.

    This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of RMP-NMR and ‘Healing the Hurt’ Project partners and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

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