PHILIPPINES: Discrimination against Indigenous People
June 12, 2003
URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM
Forwarded Appeal 13 June 2003
FA-19-2003: Displacement of 115 Manobo-families in Mindanao, Philippines
PHILIPPINES: Discrimination against Indigenous People
Below is an urgent appeal we are forwarding from Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP). 115 indigenous people's families have been rendered homeless after the Provincial Sheriff of Bukidnon forcibly evicted them from their homes in Mindanao on April 16, 2003. On behalf of these indigenous peoples facing displacement by Philippine authorities, we would welcome your action for the welfare of these families and their return to their ancestral lands. Please write/fax/email the Philippine authorities, using the information supplied below, and urge them to take action now. Thank you.
Facts of the Case:
On April 16, 2003 the Bukidnon Provincial Sheriff Tyrone Tan came to Manobo families place with several policemen and members of the security force of Mr. John Esca?, heir of the claimants of the land who had filed a case against the Manobo families. According to RFMAI Chairperson Datu Lito Aglay several men from the sheriffs group were wearing masks, and had with them two dump trucks, a police vehicle, a land cruiser, and a service vehicle of the military.
The Manobo families surrendered their farm tools after the Sheriff announced that he had an order of demolition, which was to be enforced that day. However, Datu Aglay pointed out that the sheriff did not have a demolition order because the document was only signed by Quezon Clerk of Court Angelina Gam and not by Judge Dante Villa. The document only stated that "the court ordered to issue a writ of execution filed by the plaintiffs."
However, the residents were all brought to the barangay (sub-district) hall of Lumintao, while members of the security force destroyed their shanties. On April 21, they transferred to Lumintao Elementary School and 57 families are staying there. The others stayed with their relatives within barangay Lumintao.
BACKGROUND OF THE STRUGGLE:
The members of REMFA had long been struggling to regain their ancestral land.
According to them, the vast land in Lumintao had been their ancestral land, which their forefathers borrowed to Manuel "Don Manolo?Fortich Sr. in 1918. Howver, the ancestral land has not been returned to the Monobos ever since. The Manobo families had to live along the riverbank of barangay Lumintao, which is usually washed out during the rainy season. Their life is so poor and they only earn Php 80.00 per day (about US$1.60) as laborer.
On June 28, 2002, the Manobo families occupied a portion of Escano, which is their ancestral land because their place was frequently washed out during the rainy season. 115 families built their shanties in the portion of Escano. On September 24, 2002, a relocation survey was conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the DENR report stated that the area presently occupied by the Manobo families is inside the titled property of the plaintiffs. But they indicated in their relocation sketch plan that a certain portion as excess of the Escano Hermanos is public land.
On October 22, 2002, Judge Dante I. Villa issued an order for the Manobo families to vacate the premises within 15 days, according to the report of the DENR. On November 2,2002, they voluntarily vacated the area and moved to the public domain portion, based on the DENR report dated October 2, 2002, specifying portion as a public land which is an excess lot titled by Escano Hermanos Inc.
After their settlement in the public domain portion, the security forces of Escano entered to the Manobos' shanties and threatened them several times. On January 23, 2003, Mr. John Unchuan, one of the heirs of Escano, destroyed about 15 shanties with some of his security forces. The security forces fired at the Manobo families and two members, Ruben Ogel and Bado Paagi, were wounded. The driver of a payloader, named Marlo Aguilar of the Escano, was also hit by his own security forces and died.
On April 4, 2003, a murder case was filed and the Manobos were accused of causing the death of the driver of the payloader of Mr. Unchuan even though his own security forces were the one who hit Marlo Aguilar and caused his death.
On April 16, 2003, the Provincial Sheriff of Bukidnon, Mr. Tyrone Tan, entered the premises of the Manobos with more or less 40 persons and destroyed the Manobos' shanties. The only document presented by the Sheriff was a court document signed by Ms. Angelina A. Gam which commanded him to execute the order.
On May 9, 2003, a member of the Manobos, Michael Blancaflor, was arrested by members of the Philippine National Police of Quezon. The Judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Quezon issued a warrant for the arrest of five Manobos charged with murder. Right now, Michael Blancaflor is still languishing in the Provincial Rehabilitation Center in Malaybalay City, while the other accused went into hiding.
The 57 Manobo families temporarily settled in Lumintao Elementary School, while others stayed with their relatives within the barangay. They are now worried about their situation, because school opening is approaching. They have just received a letter from Mr. Daniel I. Bonifacio, the President of the teachers circle association of Lumintao, that demanded the evacuation of the Manobos.
Please send a letter to the addresses below and let the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines know of your action; please send copy to: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
H.E Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President, Republic of the Philippines
New Executive Bldg., Malacanang Palace compound
J.P. Laurel st., San Miguel, Manila, Philippines
Fax no. +6329293968
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Hon. Purificacion Valera Quisumbing
Commission on Human Rights
Commonwealth avenue, Diliman, Quezon City
Fax no. +632929-0102
Email add: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hon. Teresita Quintos-Deles
NAPC, Lead convenor
Member of Task Force 63
6th Floor, DHC Bldg,. 1115 Edsa, Quezon City
Tel no. (02) 3733361 to 64
Fax no. local 132
Timuay Ronald L. Adamat
Secretary for IPs Special Concern
Office of the Presidential Adviser for Special Concerns
Indigenous Peoples Special concern office
Rm. 415- Tahanan ng Masa Bldg.,
Tel/Fax no. +632 7368656
Atty. Reuben A. Lingating
Commissioner, National commission on Indigenous Peoples
2nd and 3rd Flr., D & E Bldg.,
Quezon and Roces Avenue
Quezon City, Metro Manila
SUGGESTED SAMPLE LETTER:
I am very concerned about 115 Manobo families in barangay Lumintao, Quezon, Bukidnon, Mindanao, who were forced to leave their shanties by the Sheriff.
According to the victims, the area they were presently staying is a public domain, an assertion they based on the sketch plan report of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), specifying the portion as public land. Right now, the 57 families have temporarily settled inside the school premises of Luminatao Elementary School and others have stayed with their relatives. They are all living in a miserable situation.
I urge the Philippine government to order the immediate return of the Manobo people to their previous occupancy, which is a public domain. I also call upon the Philippine government to guarantee the safety of Manobo families against any harassment.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission