The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) condemned Bayan Muna president and former solon Satur Ocampo and his companions’ activities which included the alleged trafficking of 14 Lumad minors.
In a statement released on Monday, NCIP also condemned Ocampo’s group for what they call as disregard of the right of Ata-Manobo Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICC) or Indigenous Peoples (IPs) of Talaingod, Davao del Norte to “free and prior informed consent, manipulations and misinterpretations as to the true intent of the schools, and lack of recognition of community authority and customary laws.”
The NCIP also lauded national and local authorities for the quick action in stopping the attempt to transport the minors and said they condemn activities of any group that takes advantage of the IPs to advance their own agenda.
“We express our strong support to IP leaders, elders in Talaingod led by Bai Pilar Libayao, Datu Guibang Apuga and Datu Lumansad Sibogan and other IP leaders for bravery standing up to protect the rights of ICCs, IPs especially the young,” the statement read.
It also urged the public to “recognize and respect the IPs rights to self-determination”, particularly their free and prior informed consent, their customary laws, and political structures within their ancestral domains.
Earlier, Ocampo’s group claimed that they rescued the children from alleged harassment of a group Almara which allegedly forcibly closed the Salugpungan Learning Center, a community-based Lumad school, in Sitio Dulyan, Barangay Palma in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
Meanwhile, Municipal Tribal Office of Talaingod representative Bai Pilar Libayao said there was no conflict in their community hence there was no need to rescue the children.
Libayao added it is the non-government organizations that bring conflict to the community, saying they teach IPs to fight against the government.
Totoy Loyod, a resident of Barangay Palma, said Ocampo’s group did not ask him to allow them to bring his daughter Jonelyn.
He added the teachers told him that his daughter was brought to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Davao to participate in a mass rally.
Ata-Manobo Municipal Tribal Council of Elders leader Datu Gibang Apuga issued a resolution requesting for the closure of the concerned school because “the Salugpungan schools did not secure the free and prior informed consent of the ICC and IP community”.
Apuga said there was a misrepresentation of the school’s nature to the parents and students as it teaches hatred toward the government instead of academic lessons, and lack of respect for tribal leadership and customary laws. (PNA/Ma. Teresa Montemayor)