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Tribal groups seek Catamco ouster from IP committee

/ 12:52 AM August 08, 2015
NORTH Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco trying to convince Manobo evacuees to return home during a dialogue on July 20. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

NORTH Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco trying to convince Manobo evacuees to return home during a dialogue on July 20. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

DAVAO CITY—After declaring her persona non grata, indigenous peoples’ groups have asked the House of Representatives to remove North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco as head of the committee on indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples for a raid on a shelter keeping Manobo evacuees supposedly to rescue them from militants.

“Catamco is not fit to head an important committee in Congress,” said Piya Malayao, secretary general of Katribu, considered as the country’s largest alliance of indigenous people’s (IP) groups.

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The group said Catamco would endanger “not only the Manobo evacuees in Davao but also all IP groups in the Philippines.”

“We urge House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte to immediately remove Representative Catamco as the chair of the committee on indigenous peoples,” Malayao said.

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“Also, we call on Speaker Belmonte to order the House ethics committee to immediately investigate the conduct of Catamco as a legislator,” she said.

Catamco belittled the group’s statement. “That’s their right and they have the freedom to express it,” she said in a text message. “That’s the democratic space they are allowed to enjoy,” she added.

Katribu, along with Sulong Katribu party-list, the group Stop the Killings of Indigenous Peoples Network and Save Our Schools Network, picketed the House of Representatives as they submitted a letter demanding Catamco’s removal from the committee.

Protesters threw mud at the image of Catamco, who had been earlier accused of insulting the evacuees when she said the tribal people smelled.

Backed by police, Catamco arrived at the Haran compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines on Fr. Selga Street here last month, purportedly to rescue hundreds of “lumad” who have taken refuge in the compound after they fled their homes in Talaingod and Kapalong, Davao del Norte, because of the heavy presence of soldiers in their communities.

Since the lumad were not willing to leave the compound, and did not want to be “rescued,” many resisted policemen and the resulting scuffle left 18 people hurt. The commotion also disrupted classes being held for the evacuees’ children, leaving most of the Manobo children traumatized. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Davao City, evacuees, Manobo, Mindanao, North Cotabato, Region, Rep. Nancy Catamco, tribal
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