‘Our culture didn’t teach us to be anti-governmet’ — IP leader

A tribal leader said on February 12, 2020, the indigenous peoples (IP) culture did not teach them to revolt against the government.

Datu Joel Unad (left), chairperson of the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Council of Elders (MIPCEL), and Datu George Mandahay (PNA photo by Che Palicte)

Datu George Mandahay, of Sitio Kahusayan in Calinan, Davao City, appealed to his fellow IP housed at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran Mission Center to go home to their respective communities.

“Please leave that place [Haran], our culture did not teach us to be anti-government. Our culture does not teach us to beg for alms or money from anybody,” Mandahay said in the vernacular.

The ancestral domain of the IPs, he said, are intact contrary to what Haran officials said that it was utilized by the military and illegal loggers.

He added that the innocence of the IPs was robbed by the Haran officials who brainwashed and manipulated on the ideologies of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

“Most of those who were recruited are living in remote areas. They are those innocent, poor who are easily deceived by those who manage the Haran,” he said.

Meanwhile, Datu Joel Unad, chairperson of the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Council of Elders (MIPCEL), said he will continue to persuade the family and relatives of the IPs inside the facility.

“I hope the Haran management will allow the families and relatives to come inside and talk to their loved ones,” he said.

He added that the attempted rescue in January led by Datu Guibang Apoga showed that the latter really cares for his people and wanted them to be liberated from the lies and deceit.

On January 25, a tension ensued at the Haran Mission Center when Apoga along with family members and relatives of those inside the center, came to pull out the IPs and persuade them to go back to their tribal villages.

He said during the rescue operation, somebody inside the facility told the IPs not to listen to Apoga because he is an enemy and his loyalty is with the government.

“If you will try to look at the situation, it is not our culture to persuade fellow IPs not to listen to a leader like Datu Guibang. It only proves that there is a doctrine implanted in them that is beyond the bounds of our laws,” he said.

Condemnation

The Mindanao Indigenous People’s Youth Organizations (MIPYO) and MIPCEL slammed the CPP-NPA- NDF and its allied groups for the forced evacuation of the IPs from Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, North Cotabato and Bukidnon to the UCCP Haran compound.

In a statement on February 6, both groups condemned the continued deception and detention of their brothers and sisters in Haran; slavery and of indigenous peoples’ youths in Haran; the manipulation and exploitation of IP groups and communities for anti-state and anti-establishment ends; and indoctrination of IP youths to terrorism through hate speech and exploitation.

“We condemned CPP-NPA-NDF and allied/support groups’ for the use of schools and education and development programs for the recruitment of IP children as warriors and combatants; and fundraising from well-meaning, civic and religious organizations for criminal ends,” the statement read.

They said President Rodrigo Duterte is not deaf on their pleas and has ordered the local officials to attend to their needs.

“However, our brothers and sisters remain in Haran and not allowed to go home, their movement controlled by the CPP-NPA-NDF; deprived of basic necessities such as food and water,” the statement further read.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

They added that those who were able to leave are now hiding for fear of being executed, as they told stories of inhumane living conditions, abuse, manipulation and indoctrination inside the facility.

“We seek your help in stopping this deception and detention. We appeal to you to join our call to let our brothers and sisters go home,” it added.

Mining issue

Most of the left-leaning groups have used the mining issue, among other reasons, in defending UCCP-Haran’s keeping of hundreds of Indigenous People since 2014.

During the recent rescue operation, Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organization in Southern Mindanao Secretary-General Jong Monzon said the IPs opted to stay in Haran to protect the Pantaron Mountain Range from mining companies supposedly operating in Talaingod, among other grounds.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Davao region (MGB 11) has made it clear that there is no approved mining application in the province of Davao del Norte to date.

Lawyer Alberto Lascano, MGB 11 regional director, denied the claim of Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organization in Southern Mindanao and Bayan that there are mining companies operating in the tribal municipality of Talaingod.

In his status report of mining applications in Davao del Norte, Lascano briefed Governor Edwin Jubahib that “there is no approved mining applications” in the towns of Talaingod and Kapalong, and elsewhere in Davao del Norte.

He said there are 17 mining companies that applied for mining exploration and mineral production in the two municipalities.

Of these applications, 12 were denied while the other five were returned for various reasons.

He denied the false information in a Facebook post of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Southern Mindanao, which alleged that Philippine Meng Di Mining and Development Corporation has acquired a mining exploration permit in Talaingod.

The company’s application, he added, was in fact “returned to the applicant”, as it is entirely within the Tourism Development Area (TDA) and Critical Watershed (CW) No-Go Zone.

He also clarified that the application of Phil. Meng Di Mining only covers the municipality of Kapalong, and not Talaingod, contrary to Bayan claims.

Jubahib said the issue is a classic example of how the leftist organizations are deceiving the public in pursuing their agenda.

“They are good at using deception and manipulating the minds of our people in furthering their leftist agenda and in exploiting the plight of the Indigenous People for their benefit,” he added. (PNA)

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