By Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)
An indigenous people’s organization condemned the brutal slay of two Blaan tribe members in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur village by alleged members of the Philippine Army on 23 August. The Blaan communities in Kiblawan and adjacent villages are affected by the explorations of Glencore-Xstrata Tampakan Gold-Copper Project.
According to the National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines (KAMP), the pangayaw (tribal war) will persist as long as the Blaan are threatened with displacement.
“Gruesome massacres and killings will not end until Xstrata is sent packing,” Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of the indigenous peoples’ group said. “The killing of the Freay family members is a horrible development in the long-wrought and arduous struggle of the Blaan people to protect their lands.”
The Blaan tribe has been waging a seven-year pangayaw against Xstrata (fully acquired by Glencore early this year), and its local affiliate, Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI), in defense of their lands against open-pit and large-scale mining.
Datu Anting Freay, 60, and his son Victor Freay, 16, were killed allegedly by members of the 39th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and Task Force Kitaco in their home in Sitio Bulol Kalon, Bongmal, Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur. Anting sustained three gunshot wounds in the face, neck, and leg, while Victor sustained eighteen gunshots to the body, disemboweling him.
“The Blaan communities affected by the Tampakan mining project is resolute in fighting for their rights to land, even if it has been costing the lives of many Blaan men, women, and children. They know that this struggle to defend their lands is for the next generations and the patrimony of our country,” Malayao shared.
“It is the Aquino government and its mercenaries that need to stand down and finally acknowledge the rights long fought for by the indigenous peoples.”
The Tampakan Gold-Copper Project straddles the towns of Tampakan in South Cotabato, Columbio in Sultan Kudarat, Kiblawan in Davao del Sur, and Malungon in Sarangani. Xstrata, taken over by commodities giant Glencore International last April, is now in the reigns of the US$5.9-billion mining project. It is considered the country’s biggest foreign investment.
Protracted violence, rights violations
In October 2012, a Blaan family was murdered also in the affected areas of the Tampakan Project. Juvy Capion, and her children John and Pop aged 8 and 13, were slain by strafing by members of the 27th Infantry Battalion. Nine members of the 27th IB were relieved from duty following the Capion massacre. The 39th IB is now deployed in the area, in conjunction with Task Force Kitaco, an armed organization of paramilitary and regular military troops sanctioned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to quell opposition to the Xstrata mining project.
The 39th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army also has a smirched human rights record, says Malayao. “The 39th IBPA’s hands are tainted with the blood of two other Blaan people, that of Rudy and his son, Rudyrick Dejos. Like the Capions and the Freays, the Dejoses were part of the struggle to defend Blaan lands from mining.”
In 2011, the 39th IBPA were allegedly responsible for the brutal slay of Rudy Yalon-Dejos and his son Rudyrick. They sustained multiple gunshot and stab wounds, their hands smashed, their bodies covered with bruises.
“The case of the Blaan people’s struggle against this mining corporation is a splatter of blood stains in the “peace and development” of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan. There is no peace resulting in the development agenda of the government, but a string of human rights violations committed against the indigenous peoples,” Malayao said.
“We want Xstrata out of the Philippines, and its mercenaries and protectors, namely the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to stay out of Blaan lands. Because surely, the indigenous peoples will relentlessly defend their lands from plunder and destruction.”
Piya Macliing Malayao
Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)
National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines
Room 304 NCCP Building
876 Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue
West Triangle, Quezon City