Opol, Misamis Oriental – On October 16, 2015, at around 9:30 in the morning, five security guards of Denosta’s ranch harassed and fired at 21 members of a Higaonon community in Sitio Inayaw, hurting two individuals. Jessi Ragmac, 27 years old, was hit in the hand while another victim Giovanni Jaudian, 35 years old, was hurt while when he fell during the commotion. The guards allegedly also pointed their guns at the victims’ women companions.
The victims said they were attending to their crops when the guards appeared and demanded who their leader was. The guards reportedly said that Leo Paguidopon, land caretaker, “ordered them to kill anyone” who would enter the ranch.
The village of Bagocboc was first occupied by Higaonon families, and Sitio Inayaw is part of their ancestral domain.
In 1974, a certain Ella Y. Denosta leased the area from the government and converted it into a ranch, now managed by Paguidopon. The area was later fenced, which forced the Higaonon families out to the adjacent areas. Over the decades, some areas became unused and fences were destroyed.
On October 14, 2014, pushed by hunger, Higaonon families from nearby areas started to till the idle land to survive.
The victims were all members of Pangalasag (Indigenous Shield), a community-based member organisation of Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organisation, which has been active since 2011 in the campaign against expansion of an oil palm plantation in Opol.
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Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo
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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.
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