MANILA — Senatorial candidate David D’Angelo, who was with the group of tribesmen fired upon by unidentified assailants in Bukidnon province, urged the government on Wednesday to promptly resolve land issues involving indigenous peoples, lamenting that Tuesday's shooting incident displayed the "system of injustice" plaguing them.
"Habang binabaril kami, sinasabihan pa ng mga namamaril, 'Labas kayo diyan! Labas! Labas!' Parang mga daga, parang mga hayop na pinapuputukan," D'Angelo, an environment advocate running under the ticket of labor leader Ka Leody de Guzman, recalled their experience in an interview on ANC's "Headstart".
(While shooting us, the gunmen were giving orders, "Come out!". We're all like rats, we're like animals being fired upon.)
The group of de Guzman and D'Angelo were with the Manobo-Pulangiyon tribe on Tuesday in Barangay Butong in Quezon town to support the latter in reclaiming 4 hectares of what they consider ancestral domain.
Four members of the tribe including one of their Datu, and a volunteer advocate were injured after the shooting incident.
De Guzman blamed Quezon Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III for what happened as he accused the local chief executive of land grabbing. The Partido Lakas ng Masa presidential candidate said in a TeleRadyo interview that he was certain the gunmen came from the mayor's compound.
But Lorenzo denied knowledge of the incident and any involvement. He said he was not anymore connected to the pineapple plantation where the shooting happened.
"Ang panawagan ko lang ay maaksyonan ng gobyerno, lalo na ng NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples), kung makakatulong po si Pangulong [Rodrigo] Duterte, na ma-recognize na 'yung mga CADC (Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim), maging CADT (Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title) ng ating mga katutubo, para finally ay makatira sila nang maayos at maangat naman nila ang kanilang buhay," D'Angelo said.
(My call is for the government, particularly the NCIP, with the help of President Duterte, to recognize the CADC and CADT of our IPs so they can finally settle down decently and improve their lives.)
According to De Guzman, the Manobos had complete documentation to prove their ownership of the land and had secured a 2018 court order for Lorenzo to vacate the area.
"Walang ilegal na ginawa 'yung ating mga katutubo kasi meron ng recognition ng ancestral domain. Meron na ngang notice to vacate, but hindi pa rin nai-enforce. Sabi nga ng mga katutubo, 4 na anak na nila ang nasagasaan," D'Angelo said.
(This tribal group is not doing anything illegal because there is already recognition of their ancestral domain. There is even already a notice to vacate, but it hasn't been enforced. They said four children have already been hit by cars on the road.)
Tribe members are living in makeshift shelters along the road after being displaced from their lands, he said.
D'Angelo claimed that over 90 tribal people in Bukidnon, including the Talaandigs, had been killed for defending their ancestral lands.
He described the shooting incident as a result of "a system of injustice that continually does not recognize IPs (indigenous peoples)."
Indigenous peoples are among the poorest of minority groups, with little access to social services including education and health-care, experts have said.