The Centre d'appui aux Philippines / Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC) is in solidarity with the communities of the Higaonon Lumad in Sitio Camansi in Banglay, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental. We sympathize with the 35 Higaonon Lumad families (158 individuals) who were forced to flee their homes—for the sixth time since 2015—due to harassment from soldiers from the 58th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) who have encamped in their communities.
We condemn this affront to basic civil and human rights among the indigenous people. We are in cognizant that these Higaonon Lumad families were repeatedly subjected to threats, harassment and intimidation by the soldiers, maliciously accusing them as members or supporters of the armed group New People’s Army (NPA).
We condemn the military for its repressive tactics to harass the evacuees that even after their escape to seek refuge in another village and seek help from non-government organizations, the military followed them and make their struggle more miserable. One Lumad girl was even nearly raped because there is no safety in the area where they built plastic tents outside of the provincial Capitol building for temporary shelter. Many of them got sick because of their exposure to the urban environment they are not accustomed to.
We are concerned that the consequences of the government’s development projects is destroying the sacred grounds of the indigenous people and consequently forcing them to leave their communities.
We support the demand of the community to pull out from their village and cease the construction of the military’s detachment in their ancestral territory. We are in support of the evacuees’ demand to demilitarize their community, to obtain their consent on whatever development plans the government is planning for their community, and to respect their right to a self-determined development.