Probe of tribal killings sought
MANILA, Philippines—A Representative from Ifugao province has asked President Benigno Aquino III to order an investigation into the recent killings of tribal leaders who he said were engaged in protecting their ancestral domain against big mining and logging groups.
Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat identified the tribal leaders as Florita Caya, general manager of the Unified Tribal Council of Elders and Leaders and Armando Maximino, a Dumagat tribal chieftain of Delebsong, Dinalungan, in Aurora province.
In a resolution he filed at the House, Baguilat, chair of the committee on national cultural communities, said an investigation would be in keeping with the administration’s policy of fighting extrajudicial killings, particularly of leaders of cause-oriented groups.
Baguilat said the killing of Caya and Maximino was an attack against all indigenous peoples in order to intimidate and discourage them from pursuing their rights as guaranteed by the Constitution, international covenants of the Philippines and various acts and resolutions of Congress.
“I condemn these acts of silencing indigenous leaders who are struggling to defend their lands and resources from land grabbers and destructive development projects,” Baguilat said in his resolution.
“Killing them will not silence the struggle of indigenous peoples and instead will further agitate us to pursue the recognition and respect of indigenous peoples’ rights in the country and to hold those responsible for these killings accountable,” he stressed.
On April 27, an identified gunman shot Caya at the back of her head, instantly killing her. Caya was the newly elected GM of UTCEL, a group of indigenous peoples (Mandaya, Manobo, Mangguangan and Dibabawon) which was awarded in 2004 with a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title covering 30,468 hectares in 14 barangay in Monkayo, Compostela Valley.
According to Baguilat, Caya is the third general manager of UTCEL to be killed by unidentified persons in two years.
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