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Katribu Partylist, a national democratic political partylist which represents indigenous Filipinos, has called for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to stop all military incursions into the ancestral lands of the Blaan community in Mindanao:
Indigenous peoples under the progressive KATRIBU Partylist condemns the continued and massive military operations of the combined forces of the 9th IB, 27th IB, Task Force Kitacom and CAFGU elements since January 28, 2013 that resulted in the forced evacuations of more than 80 indigenous B’laansfrom their ancestral territories in Bong Mal, Tampakan, South Cotabato.
Citing a report received by the KATRIBU Partylist from its local chapter, 25 individuals mostly women and children evacuated from the said community on February 1, 2013. This was followed by another batch of 30 individuals in the morning of February 2 and then again by 15 individuals in the afternoon of the same day. Most of the evacuees headed to the Tampakan Parish in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
KATRIBU Partylist calls on the Aquino government and the military to immediately halt its military operations in the Blaan communities in Tampakan, South Cotabato. According to Ms Kakay Tolentino, a Dumagat and spokesperson of the KATRIBU Partylist, “The military operations in the Blaan communities is a perfect example of how ‘development aggression’ like the mining operations of the Xstrata-Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) goes hand in hand with militarization. It clearly manifests how the Aquino government is hell-bent to protect interest of a foreign corporation that plunders our resources over the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples .”
The Blaans in Bong Mal launched a “pangayaw” against the giant mining company Xstrata and its local partner SMI. A pangayaw is a traditional war waged by the indigenous Lumads to defend their ancestral lands from foreign intrusion and plunder.
“It is infuriating that the Aquino government uses repression instead of addressing the legitimate concerns of the Blaans and the indigenous peoples. The Aquino government violently suppresses the Blaan action to defend their lands just to protect a State-sponsored and transnational corporation project like Xstrata-SMI”, Ms. Tolentino added.
“We call on the Aquino government to immediately stop the use of brutal force. The violence it unleashes will not solve the root cause of the Blaan pangayaw and will only escalate the the issue. The continued bloodshed will further fuel the rage and resolute struggle of the indigenous Blaan to defend their land and life”, Ms. Tolentino further stated.