Bulacan Dumagats plead for food, claiming military presence prevents them from hunting, farming | Inquirer News

Bulacan Dumagats plead for food, claiming military presence prevents them from hunting, farming

By: - Correspondent / @inquirerdotnet
/ 05:13 PM September 03, 2020

CITY OF MALOLOS –– Dumagat communities living in the Angat Watershed in Bulacan have appealed to Malacanang to send them food and livelihood aid, claiming the presence of soldiers there prevents them from fishing, hunting, and farming.

Dumagats living in 22 indigenous settlements in the towns of Donya Remedios Trinidad and Norzagaray, and the City of San Jose del Monte, have not gone to the fields or forests for fear of being mistaken for communist rebels by the military.

“Soldiers are after the New People’s Army. They have been scouring the indigenous communities for rebels or tribal members coerced by the NPA. That is why it has been difficult for the average Dumagat to venture out to secure food),” according to an Aug. 25 letter to the Palace from Martin Francisco, chair of the environmental group Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society Inc.


It was sent a day before rebels attacked a detachment of the Army’s 48th Infantry Battalion in the DRT barangay of Kabayunan on Aug. 26. For the last 15 years, soldiers have been guarding Angat Dam’s 13-kilometer Angat Umiray Transbasin Tunnel, which directs water from Umiray river in Quezon province to the reservoir. Angat supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s potable water.


Francisco said the Army’s presence there has cut off the rebels’ food supply, but the Dumagats have also been affected because soldiers have been strict with tribe’s movement in the mountains.

He asked Malacanang to help the nearly 2,000 tribe members avail of low-cost rice through the National Food Authority. “We ask that we be given the chance to get back on our feet by selling affordable rice to the Dumagats so we can avoid relying on dole-outs. It is better for us if we are given livelihood opportunities and access to cheap food,” the letter said.

The Dumagat tribe also wants the national government to prioritize them in the application of the National ID System to spare them from Army suspicion that they support the rebels.

Dumagats also appealed for the construction of a Tribal Health Center.

“Government agencies are not always around during the weekends or emergencies. A Tribal Health Center will serve as the regional health unit for far-flung settlements like ours,” the letter says.

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TAGS: Bulacan, Food, Hunting, Malacañang, Regions

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