Two members of a Banwaon group that opposes development aggression and militarization in their ancestral lands were gunned down this week.
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Two members of a progressive Lumád organization were killed in successive attacks in San Luis, Agusan del Sur on Aug. 12, said an urgent alert of the group Higala sa (Friends of the) Lumád Network released Aug. 17.
Killed were Jerry ‘Dandan’ Layola, 42, and Jimmy Mapinsahan Barosa, 48, both members of the Banwaon group Tagdumahan, which actively opposes the entry of mining and logging operations in their resource-rich ancestral lands.
Tagdumahan is a member organization of the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu). At least seven other Tagdumahan members had been killed in the past decade.
Layola, 42, was attacked at his home in Balit village at around 7 p.m. A man knocked on the door, and when Layola opened it, the assailant shot him three times in the chest then took off on a motorcycle.
Minutes later, in Baylo village, Barosa, 48, was outside a friend’s house when a masked man shot him in the back, then escaped on a motorcycle. Barosa, a resident of Kasilayan village, was in Baylo to bring his wife to a hospital for blood transfusion the following day. Barosa died on the spot.
Renel Manpinsahan, 19, who was sitting outside with Barosa, was grazed on the forehead.
The killings came amid outrage and condemnation by indigenous groups over the recent killings of Lumád in Davao City and Bukidnon.
Tagdumahan stand against mining as reason for attacks
The indigenous alliance Katribu had said in past statements that Tagdumahan had strongly opposed the planned open-pit mining for gold in the area of the Tambuli Mining Company Inc. and Malampay Mining Inc., for which the military operations was paving the way.
Higala sa Lumád Network’s alert said the leaders and members of Tagdumahan had been targeted by a Army-backed paramilitary group, which had harassed them into surrendering their territories and signing a unified Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titled (CADT).
The paramilitary group, composed of rebel returnees, was formerly led by now deceased Mario Napungahan, a tribal chieftain and member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu), who wanted to consolidate the Banwaon territories under his supervision and leadership.
Napungahan has reportedly been replaced, as the paramilitary group continues its claims and harassment on Banwaons of San Luis.
In 2014, December 22, Tagdumahan founding chairperson and Balit village chairman Necasio “Angis” Precioso Sr. was shot dead by motorcycle-riding men as he was walking in the village with his son. The evening before he was killed, Precioso had argued with an Army official of the 26th Infantry Battalion, which had encamped in the village, in the implementation of the supposed Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD). The soldiers were also forcibly recruting Banwaons as “peace volunteers.”
Necasio’s killing was followed by intensified operations and harassment by paramilitary men and soldiers of the 26th IB, which triggered the evacuation of Lumád residents in the four villages of Mahagsay, Sta. Rita, Binicalan and San Pedro in San Luis town in end 2014. They returned home in March 2015, after staying for three months at an abandoned hospital in Balit village proper.
Aside from Preciosa, two other members of Tagdumahan were killed under the Aquino administration: Genesis Ambason, also a Balit resident who was tortured and killed by suspected Cafgu men in 2012, and Lito Abion in September 2015.
In 2005, four other Tagdumahan members were also red-baited then killed by suspected paramilitary and state forces: Virgie Solis, Inday Lozada, Mat Morales and Bebot Nuer.