19 May 2017
For about two months now, the 2nd Marine Batallion Landing Team (MBLT-2) has conducted a relentless military campaign to defend the encroachment of the David M. Consunji Incorporated’s (DMCI) destructive logging and open-pit mining at the Daguma mountain range in Sultan Kudarat. As a faithful mercenary, the MBLT-2 has carried out its fascist undertakings in suppressing the Lumad and farmers’ broad and firm resistance against Consunji’s landgrabbing.
It has been four decades that Consunji have unceasingly encroach the Dulangan people in Sultan Kudarat by employing fascist government troops, company-hired paramilitary groups and company guards to protect his business interests and facilitate the expulsion of the Lumads from their ancestral land. Mass slaughter and a string of atrocities and human rights violations perpetrated by state authorities were directly connected to the company’s aggressive operation. The Dulangan people have unwaveringly fought the encroachment throughout the years in defense of their ancestral land.
Recently, the government awarded an additional 40,000 hectare of IFMA concession to the M&S Company, DMCI’s logging firm operating in the area, hence expanding Consunji’s land monopoly in Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Maguindanao to over 142,954 hectares. The M&S Company is also set to start harvesting its forest plantations this year.
Armed encounters between the New People’s Army guerillas and the MBLT-2 and DMCI company guards occur as a consequence of the intensified military operations that started in March. This prompted several civilians to evacuate. It also resulted to hamletting and food blockade affecting eleven communities in the barangays (villages) of Hinalaan, Nalilidan and Limulan, all in Kalamansig municipality. Cases of illegal arrest and detention, damage to properties and harassments of civilians and the students of a Lumad school in Sitio Tinagdanan, Brgy. Hinalaan were monitored and reported by indigenous people’s organizations and human rights groups.
Reinforcement troops of the AFP begun to sow further terror and insistently stay at the civilian communities. Around 700 Dulangan-Manobos have already left their homes at a recent evacuation that started on May 12. The local government of Kalamansig is deliberately insouciant and apathetic to the victims who are seeking for justice and calling for the withdrawal of the troops.
Kalamansig mayor Ronan Eugene Garcia ─ who always stand up for his “Marine-friends” and the DMCI, the biggest investor in his municipality ─ negates issues about military abuses and violations in his hometown. Adding insult to injuries, the mayor refuses to heed to the demands of the evacuees by dismissing them as mere lies and propaganda. Food supplies were sent to the evacuees only after the mayor learned that progressive and human rights groups will conduct relief operations and fact-finding. He publicly campaigned through the social media to resist the apparent efforts of the progressive groups and “groups sympathetic with the Left”, and further asserted that they could settle and resolve issues and differences on their own.
While it is the mission of the MBLT-2, 57th IB-PA and 33rd IB-PA to launch intensive attacks against the Lumads and farmers opposing DMCI and subsequently smash the people’s resistance, funded local officials for their part facilitate land grabbing and whitewash, and legitimize the suppression of people’s rights.
How much the MBLT-2 Commanding Officer and Kalamansig mayor Ronan Eugene Garcia are paid for to fulfill Consunji’s wishes, this we can only guess. It is public knowledge that the more vicious their stratagem, the higher they are paid.
The NDF-FSMR for its part, firmly affirms its unceasing fight against the destructive logging and large-scale mining companies who, for so long, have been dispossessing the indigenous peoples, extracting our nation’s resources, siphoning huge profits and destroying the environment. Moreover, the New People’s Army is resolutely committed to frustrate and punish the mercenaries, especially the high-ranking officials of the MBLT-2 and the Armed Forces of the Philippines who continue to protect these companies and enrich themselves at the expense of the people.
Ka Efren Aksasato
Spokesperson, NDF – Far South Mindanao Region