• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

Yes, black lives matter and so are the lives of the Indigenous Peoples!  We were astonished when there were massive expressions of protests, rallies and mobilization in the United States and getting support all over the world on the killings of black people triggered by the murder of George Floyd by an arresting officer. The incidence sparked international protests against racism and police brutality. But in the wake of this mass call for change, police are still killing black men and women at this proportionate rate. Thus, the call: “Black lives matter!”

In my stint around Mindanao visiting the Indigenous Peoples who are now harnessing their collective potentials by binding themselves together through cooperativism, I was shocked by the outpourings of reports on how oppressed the Indigenous Peoples are. Their Ancestral Domain has been illegally grabbed and transformed into plantations and ranches in gross violation of their rights as embodied in the Indigenous People’ Rights Act. (IPRA Law.)  When they would countervail against these aggressions to protect their rights, they are being erased from the face of the earth.

This happened in 2016, when a certain rancher enclosed some 5,000 hectares of the tribal lands in San Vicenter, Sumlao, Bukidnon. When the tribe of Bae Merlita Mayantao protested, bullets rained upon them at dawn while they were taking coffee and then and there, three were killed including a son of BAE Mayantao and three were wounded. After four years, the killers who are known members of powerful rancher’s Security Group are still scot free.

Let us revisit history on Lumad-IP killings in Don Carlos and Maramag, Bukidnon on September 3, 1998, eleven Lumads were ambushed and killed, namely: 1. Esterlita Daguiwaas (47 wound of gunshot from M79 grenade rifle; 2. Jimboy A. Rama 3. Antonio Bantilis 4. Dado Hallasgo-Sinanguyan, Don Carlos, Bukidnon, 5. Renante Daguiwaas, 6. Amado Suklatan, 7. Jun Delgado, 8. Pedro Dumangon, 9. Pedro Daguiwaas, 10. Judith Pulao Slibo and 11. Eboy Lumboy. All killed for fighting for their land rights. How painful!

What is even more shocking is the narration of Bae Jovelyn Lagpao: “2006 gipatay sa pusil akong mga pag-umangkon sulod sa panimalay, Rosel Lagpao, Kokoy Bundulan; buros kini ang asawa apil patay ang bata sulod sa tiyan. Hangtod karon ang pagpanglupig kanamu nagpadayon kay ang among luna nangabalaligya nga wala among mga kasayuran.”  ((In 2016, my nephew and niece was who pregnant were murdered including the unborn baby. The oppression against us continue as our lands have been sold without our knowledge.

For fighting for their rights, Datu Fred Sinahon painfully shared this information: “Goerd Amilian, gipatay, tigbas; Anastacio Susina, gipusil uban ni Goerd Amilian; Alfonso Sinahon, Gitabangan og bunal, tigbas, gigutad gutad. Karon patay na sila, nahurot na kawat ang mga Abaca, Palkata, mga Lawaan, hurot gabas. Pati ilang luna gi-ilog na sa ila.” (After they have been hacked to death, all their resources have been stolen, their lands occupied.)

The oppression is not just limited to taking away the IPs’ land; it also included their water rights as in the case of Datu Ben Anoos. The land is so rich in water resources and was in fact transformed by an LGU into a water system to supply the water needs of the Municipality.  But not a single peso has been given to the family of Datu Ben Anoos. This happened in 2006 and since then Datu Ben has been seeking for justice but until now the law in this country seems to favor the rich and powerful.

What is very painful is what happened to Bae Lea of San Fernando, Talakag.  Bae Lea was an amazing lady datu who was so courageous to fight for the water rights of her tribe. For standing for that right, she was killed last year.

In Don Carlos, Bukidnon, eleven IPs who courageously fought against the entry of TNCs to convert their lands into plantations have been killed. When one is killed, he is put to rest and peace with Magbabaya.  But what is so painful is to see thousands of IP families now living under the tints beside the highway in Quezon, Bukidnon. They are living there without food, without water, under the excruciating heat of the sun and devastated during the outpourings of rains, especially the children whose feet have to be tied as they might run to highways and be hit by the running cars. The Ancestral Domain covering more than one thousand hectares of the Manobo Pulangiyon Indigenous Cultural Community of Barangay San Jose and Bulong, Quezon, Bukidnon is now the subject of legal war between the IPs and powerful corporation with support from powers-that-be.

It is so painful that the IPs were once the masters of the land that they were using in the spirit of service and sharing.  But the colonialists came, privatized the land and convert these into massive plantations to satisfy their consumerist lifestyle.  When the colonialists left, a new breed of neo-colonialists loomed.  Yes, while our lands have been converted to massive plantations planted with high value crops, we cannot even have enough basic staples, i.e. rice and milk, for the Filipinos.  This is the reason why 85% of our children are malnourished, according to the data of the Food and Nutrition Institute.  Yes, we have lost our food security and so is our ecological integrity.

Our Indigenous Peoples have been living in their ancestral domain SUSTAINABLY for thousands of years. Now, they have lost their lands and many have killed for protecting their rights and no one has been arrested for committing such heinous crimes. Let justice be done ‘till heavens fall! Indeed, black lives matter and so are the lives of the Indigenous Peoples.