Urgent Alert: Indigenous women leader arrested, interrogated

Posted by Madagway Babaeyon

A Lumad community worker, Lynlyn Lumente of Barangay Comota in La Paz, Agusan del Sur was arrested in the municipality of Talacogon and brought to the military camp for questioning.

On July 8, 2011, Ms. Lumente was visiting offices and individuals to raise funds for the ongoing dialogues (‘husay’) to solve a clan war (‘rido’) between the community of Minangkig, Angeles and Comota in La Paz.  Three deaths have already resulted from the rido and the municipality remains dangerous even for guests and passing travelers.  She was arrested in the municipality of Talacogon by a believed member of the intelligence of the Philippine Army.  After being subjected to half an hour of interrogation, she was released, her captors not finding any evidence that linked her to rebel groups in the area.

Ms. Lumente is a member of Madagway Babaeyon chapter of La Paz and is also an active member of Pigdiwatahan, a Manobo organization in the municipality.

Pigdiwatahan, as the lead Lumad organization in the area, is among the primary facilitators of the dialogues.  The organization was established just last year after its predecessor, Katiboan, broke up due to continuous threats and harassments suffered by its members who were tagged by the military as supporters of the communist New Peoples Army.  This, after the organization made it clear that it will not allow into its territories logging concessions, mining companies and plantations.  Pigdiwatahan, which similarly campaigns for the Lumads’ right to self determination, ancestral domain and cultural integrity, is subjected to the same experience, its members under constant suspicion and red-tagging.

Madagway Babaeyon expresses outrage over the treatment of the Lumads, especially the women who are most important during clan wars.  Traditionally excluded from being targets, it is the women who are often left to see to the community’s needs.  They are also relatively free to move around and arrange dialogues and negotiations between the warring groups.

“How can we work for peace in our communities when aside from the clan wars we are constantly under threat from the military and their trained armed groups?” reasoned Bae Adelfa Belayong chairperson of Madagway.  “If the military is serious in pursuing rebel groups in our area, they should stop pointing their guns at us, civilians.  Or are the targets really us who are resisting the companies they want to force into our lands?”

*Madagway Babaeyon (Beautiful Women) works for the empowerment of Lumad women in their defense of their Ancestral Domains against development aggressions that destroy their lands and consequently transgress against the very fabric of their culture which is primarily dependent on nature.

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