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72ND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY PROTESTS, SUCCESSFUL AMID THREATS, INTIMIDATION, AND ARRESTS!

ILOILO CITY – On the very day of International Human Rights Day, Duterte demonstrated his fascist nature and committed human rights violations in the form of syndicated raids, planting of evidence and filing of trumped up charges against union organizers and a member of the media.

According to Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, Duterte haphazardly scandalized the International Human Rights Day following the arrest of the seven activists.

Palabay added that the main objective of such raids and baseless arrests by Duterte would be to silence the people from voicing out and the media from exposing its corrupt administration.

Despite the crackdowns, thousands of people marched towards Mendiola calling for the ouster of Duterte. They condemned the Duterte administration’s crackdown against its critics.

In Panay, different organizations and sectors have successfully gathered in the city of Iloilo and Roxas, as well as in the town of Kalibo, to commemorate the International Human Rights Day.

In Iloilo City, progressive groups gathered inside the University of the Philippines Visayas despite the deprivation of the city government to give a permit, series of intimidation, and the efforts of the police forces to stop the said activity.

The persistence of the people to conduct such protests, in various parts of the country, only shows Duterte’s isolation from the interests of the wider population.

According to those who participated in the protests, hunger, landlessness, low price of palay, unemployment, and the expensive prices of basic commodities, pushed them to join the protests despite the threats of the government.

For Bayan Panay, Duterte should be ousted because of his useless response to the crisis while being busy with spreading violence to silence the people and to cover up his inutile response.

In order to do this, the conveners of the Panay Peoples’ Coalition called for the people to unite to end Duterte’s tyrannical rule./PT

Relief Delivery Operation for Typhoon Ursula survivors was conducted by PCDR

ILOILO CITY – More than 400 families from Roxas City, Capiz received relief assistance from Panay Center for Disaster Response, Inc (PCDR), a non-government organization that serves vulnerable sectors affected by natural and man-made calamities in all provinces of Panay including Guimaras.

It has been 3 weeks since Typhoon Ursula struck the northern parts of Iloilo, Capiz, and Aklan. However, survivors still complain that they have not received any assistance from the government, while others said that the assistance from the government is not enough for the whole family.

Last January 15, 2020, PCDR together with Buylog Capiz and other volunteers conducted its second wave of Relief Delivery Operation in Roxas City, Capiz.

PCDR has also conducted RDO in Roxas City last December 29, 2019, serving a total of 500 families. According to its beneficiaries, PCDR was the first NGO to respond after Typhoon Ursula has struck.

According to Ms. Armie Almero, the Executive Director of PCDR, the assistance they delivered to the affected families of Typhoon Ursula will not be possible without the unity of its donors, volunteers, and partner organizations. Moreover, PCDR will continue to collect funds to deliver assistance to more affected areas, said Almero.

Capiz mining-free anew

ROXAS City – The Provincial Council of Capiz has successfully passed on September 3 the Provincial Ordinance No. 003 series of 2019 which prohibits large-scale mining to operate in 16 municipalities and in Roxas City in the span of 50 years.

According to the Capiz Environmental Protection Alliance (CEPA), this is a victory of the people who have acted tirelessly to pass again the ordinance to protect the environment.

It was in August 27, 1999 that the provincial board of Capiz first passed the 15-year moratorium for mining which was extended to 50 years in February 15, 2002.

However last May 11, 2016, two days after the election, the Provincial Council lifted the 50-year mining moratorium in the province.

Darlene Surriga, CEPA Coordinator, voiced out that passing again this ordinance is a success since mining does not even contribute to the development of the communities. Instead, it just causes harm to the people and the environment, she added.

The ordinance would serve as the local government’s answer to the long-asked-for calls of the people regarding the mining operations in Capiz./www.panaytoday.net

MILITANTS HOLD PANAY-WIDE PROTEST AGAINST DUTERTE’S CHA-CHA

ILOILO City – Various organizations in Panay held a protest last January 18 slamming the Congress of railroading proposals to revise the 1987 Constitution through a constituent assembly.

In Iloilo City, hundreds joined the protest denouncing the Congress’ move as an ‘effort to concentrate power’ to president Duterte.

Congress discussed constitutional amendments through a consolidated bill from a number of proposals including the Resolution of Both Houses No. 8 (RBH 8). Most bills have suggested a shift from a unitary presidential form of government to federalism.

BAYAN Panay criticized RBH 8 for containing provisions that abolishes Congress and grants Duterte legislative powers that would abolish current constitutional commissions, and overhauls the judiciary from the Court of Appeals and Sandiganbayan down to the Regional Trial Courts.

The group also slammed provisions in RBH 8 that gives congress power to pass laws allowing foreign corporations to exploit our natural resources, lease and acquire public lands, operate public utilities, educational institutions and the media.

“The treacherous Duterte-controlled Congress is using the shift to federalism as an excuse to circumvent the constitution in his favor,” said Elmer Forro, BAYAN Panay secretary general.

“The dangerous proposals are set to galvanize the tyrannical one-man rule of Duterte” said Forro. “It is important that we express our opposition to challenge this tyrannical government.”

In Aklan, militants wore headdresses and bamboo drums as they participated in the yearly Ati-atihan’s merry-making event.

“The celebration of Ati-Atihan should not isolate the people from the tyrannical condition of our country especially now, that the US-Duterte regime is so aggressive to suppress, and delete all the democratic guarantees of human rights under the current 1987 constitution via charter change through constitutional assembly,” said Kim-Sin Tugna, BAYAN Aklan’s officer-in-charge.

Tugna added that the government’s move for cha-cha is Duterte’s bribing and fascist tool to ensure his reign as a dictator,” Tugna added.

PANGUMA Aklan, the provincial formation of farmers in the province also lambasted Duterte’s cha-cha as a desperate move to spare him from the crimes of bombing Marawi, extra-judicial killings on drug war and political killings of progressive leaders.

Mitchel T. Tagumpay, provincial chairperson of PANGUMA, added that cha-cha will also legalize anti-people, militarist and economically regressive impositions of the present administration such as martial law and Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) as being packaged in his Build, Build, Build, a program subservient to foreign domination.”

Meanwhile, Bayan Capiz also lambasted Duterte’s plan to stay in power and install a government that will further exploit and oppress the people.

The Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) Panay, in a statement, has denounced charter change as an act against the interest of the Filipino people. According to the group, there is no imperative basis to change the ‘principles of democracy, national sovereignty and integrity’ enshrined in the Constitution. They have pledged bigger protests in the coming weeks to counter constitutional revisions. (panaytoday.net)

Panay NPA disarms Capiz landlord linked to illegal drugs

DUMARAO, Capiz – Members of the Nonito Aguirre Sr. Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Eastern Panay successfully disarmed a local landlord in Dumarao, Capiz yesterday afternoon, June 6.

Around 20 NPAs raided the houses of Aurelio Longno and his son Boyet, in Sibariwan village of this town.

“This NPA action was a punishment to stop Longno from his abusive and exploitative control of farmers and land grabbing,” said the NPA command.

Confiscated from older Longno were a 9mm pistol, a .22 caliber magnum, and 12-gauge shotgun bullets. Seized from his son were a .38 caliber pistol, and a homemade shotgun.

The NPA added that they also received information of high powered firearms pawned to Longno by a local of Dumarao who is said to be member of a notorious syndicate and also alleged to have links with Iloilo druglord Richard Prevendido.

In May 2014, the same NPA command disarmed and warned Darwin Celiz, a local businessman, a drug dealer and part of the drug network in Roxas City to stop his drug-related activities.

The NPA strongly prohibits the use of illegal drugs and warns dealers and protectors who will use their areas as hideouts and bases of drug operations that they will face punitive actions.

“The difficulty to stop the proliferation illegal drugs remains because of protection by big politicians, the police and the army and due to poverty,” added the NPA command. (John Ian S. Alenciaga | panaytoday.net)

Families want military out of their communities as two farmers slain by 61st IBPA laid to rest

MAAYON, Capiz – Families of the two farmers slain by members of the 61st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) last February 24 called for the military troops to pull-out from their communities as victims are finally laid to rest last weekend.

Last March 11, about 500 mourners coming from families, friends, and progressive groups delivered Lorendo Borres, 48, to his resting place in their village cemetery in Jebaca of this town.

Families and friends of Ian Borres during his burial last March 3 in their village cemetery at Jebaca, Maayon, Capiz. More photos here of KAMACA Sidlangan.

Ian Borres, 24, was earlier laid to rest on March 3 because the embalming process can no longer work on his body as it bore 32 gunshot wounds according to the village captain.

Lorendo, together with cousin Ian, were killed while on their way to get the former’s carabaos for fear of being stolen by men in plainclothes which later were identified as among members of the 61st IBPA.

The two, and three other farmers who were able to escape, were fired upon while approaching the grazing field of the carabaos by men in uniform while hiding behind tall grasses about 50 meters away.

“We want justice for my husband. The continuing presence of the military in our village endangers our lives. They should get out of our communities,” said Analy Borres, wife of Lorendo.

“Right now, no one is tending our carabaos at the farm. Our community is living in fear. No one dared go to their farm lands because of fear that they could be killed and will just be suspected as NPA,” Analy added.

Lorendo left behind his wife and two children, and his mother who is now on her own after her husband and daughter died couple of years ago.

Ian left behind his common-law wife Marjorie Dequino and four young children ages 5, 3, and 2 years old and a seven-month old baby.

“He is a loving husband and a father to us. He always makes sure that we have something to eat. He would work all-day for six days a week just to feed us. But why would they take away his life this early? What has he done wrong?” weeping Marjorie told Panay Today.

“Who will feed us now that he is gone? These military men have no souls and must pay for their sins against us,” she continued.

About 500 mourners coming from families, friends, and progressive groups delivered Lorendo Borres to his resting place in their village cemetery in Jebaca of this town. More photos here of KAMACA Sidlangan.

The 61st IB through Lt. Col Leonardo Peña has continued to spread false information that Ian and Lorendo are NPA.

In an interview with Bombo Radyo Roxas on the day of the incident, Peña claimed that they have encountered the group of Ka Reagan or Romulo Gangoso around 5PM that afternoon.

This was followed by another statement of Lieutenant Colonel Ericson Rosana, 3ID spokesperson in Panay News that the two farmers “were in the order of battle of the 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) and were newly recruited.”

This was refuted however by families and friends of Ian and Lorendo.

Maayon Mayor Wilfredo E. Borres, in a summary report of Panay-Alliance Karapatan, said that both were his relatives. Lorendo regularly came to him at his office and house, and they were not NPAs.

With the help of Karapatan, Analy and Marjorie have already filed a murder case last Monday, March 6, against the members of the 61st IBPA who are responsible for the death of their husbands. (panaytoday.net)

(See following story on the filing of cases.)

REPORT: Karapatan’s summary report on killings of farmers by 61st IBPA in Maayon, Capiz

ILOILO City – Summary Report on Shooting of Maknoy, Jebaca Residents

Date of incident: February 24, 2017
Place of incident: Sitio Maknoy, Brgy. Jebaca, Maayon, Capiz

Victims:

Lorendo Borres, 48, married (to Analy Diaz Borres, with two children), a carabao herder, resident of Sitio Maknoy, Brgy. Jebaca, Maayon, Capiz (killed)
Ian Borres, 24, single (with common-law wife Marjorie Dequino and four children), a farm worker, resident of Sitio Maknoy, Brgy. Jebaca, Maayon, Capiz (killed)
Perto Cargo, 33, married, farmer, resident of Sitio Maknoy, Brgy. Jebaca, Maayon, Capiz (survived)
Andy Borres, resident of Sitio Maknoy, Brgy. Jebaca, Maayon, Capiz (survived)
Alimar Borres, resident of Sitio Maknoy, Brgy. Jebaca, Maayon, Capiz (survived)

Perpetrators:

Unnamed elements of the 61st Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army

Accounts:

Ian Borres, 24, single (with common-law wife Marjorie Dequino and four children), a farm worker, resident of Sitio Maknoy, Brgy. Jebaca, Maayon, Capiz (killed)

What happened in the afternoon of February 24, 2017 in Sitio Maknoy, Brgy. Jebaca, Maayon, Capiz was not an armed encounter, as earlier reported, but a shooting by a team of soldiers of the Philippine Army, killing two persons who were not NPAs but civilians native to the place.

At around 3 p.m. of that day, Lorendo Borres was at their farmhouse watching his carabaos grazing on a hillside, his usual daily chore. He was talking on his mobile phone with his wife Analyn, who was working as househelp in Manila. Two strangers in civilian clothes came to him and ordered him to give them his mobile phone.

He turned away and heard someone shouting, “Tiruha! Tiruha!” (Shoot him! Shoot him!) He ran home, which was around two kilometers away. He arrived at their house panting and pale shouting for help. He told his mother Lucivita that there were strangers at the farm who threatened him and may want to steal their carabaos.

When Lorendo’s relatives heard of the situation, namely Andy Borres, his cousin, Alimar Borres, Ian Borres and Perto Cargo, his nephews, they volunteered to go back to the farm with him, taking with them each his own bolo to foil any attempt by strangers to steal Lorendo’s cattle.

Lorendo Borres, 48, married (to Analyn Diaz Borres, with two children), a carabao herder, resident of Sitio Maknoy, Brgy. Jebaca, Maayon, Capiz (killed)

Previously, there were rumors circulating in the place that some convicts have escaped from a jail and were roaming around places, armed and dangerous.

As the five approached the farmhouse, they were suddenly fired upon from uphill. They saw men in fatigue uniforms and realizing they faced army soldiers and not just some robbers or cattle rustlers, they rolled and crawled as fast as they could downhill away from the shooting, in the process separating from each other.

The shooting went on intermittently for around 30 minutes. The soldiers numbered around 20 and were members of the 61st Infantry Battalion. At around 4 p.m., Andy Borres, Alimar Borres and Perto Cargo were able to return to their respective homes.

They were shaken and sorry for Lorendo Borres and Ian Borres did not return. Alimar Borres immediately reported the incident to their punong barangay, Rene Barrios and then to the Maayon PNP station. The police came to the house of the punong barangay, but did not take any further action.

The same army soldiers who were involved in the shooting prevented the relatives from going to where the bodies of Lorendo and Ian lay, saying they first had to wait for the scene-of-crime-operatives (SOCO). Barangay kagawad Marichel Borres reported the incident to the Philippine army detachment at Brgy. Tuburan, Maayon. The army in-charge took down the report, but did not take any further action.

The team from the army and police arrived only around 9:00 a.m. of the following day, February 25, 2017 to retrieve the body. Only the punong barangay and some tanods were allowed to accompany the team to the site. A hand grenade was seen beside the body of Lorendo Borres and a shotgun beside that of Ian Borres.

Nay Lucivita Borres, 68, widow, mother of Lorendo, with 2 children (all deceased)

The bodies were around 70 meters from each other. The punong barangay told the soldiers the persons they killed were not NPAs but were civilians and his constituents. It was already 2:00 p.m. and the bodies were smelling foul when these were loaded on a Rio army truck and brought to Maayon poblacion where a funeral service got the bodies to bring to their parlor at Bailan, Pontevedra, Capiz. Everyone in Brgy. Jebaca knew that Lorendo Borres and Ian Borres were not NPAs.

Former punong barangay who served from 1972 to 2007 said he knew both since they were children, and could attest that they were of good standing in the community and were not NPAs. He said the people of Jebaca were deeply hurt by what happened.

Maayon Mayor Wilfredo Borres said both were his relatives. Lorendo regularly came to him at his office and house, and they were not NPAs. A cousin of Lorendo Borres, an army officer stationed in Negros was told by Phil. Army authorities that his cousin and nephew were mistaken killed, but the army will not admit this in public.

Marjorie Dequino, 25, common-law wife of Ian, with 4 children ages 5, 3, and 2y.o. and a 7 month-old baby.

Lucivita Borres, 68, was devastated by the death of his son, Lorendo, whom she relied for her living. Marjorie Dequino, 25, common-law wife of Ian Borres, grieved and worried how she could raise her young family without her husband. Both cry for justice, finding it hard to believe why their loved ones were killed when they did nothing wrong. No one from the Phil. Army came to talk to them.

Relatives of Lorendo Borres and Ian Borres deplored the fact that the army soldiers prevented them from getting to see the two immediately after the incident, and leaving the bodies in the hot sun. They also decried the “planting” of a grenade and a shotgun on their dead bodies. Jebaca Brgy. Kagawad Marichel Borres said their whole community was terrified by the incident. Residents became afraid to go out to their farms, thus their livelihood is disrupted.

Karapatan joined the victims and residents in demanding for justice. The 61st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine army should admit they killed innocent persons and make reparations, instead of making continued denials and telling lies in its official pronouncements. (panaytoday.net)

Prepared by: Documentation Desk of Panay Alliance-Karapatan
February 28, 2017

2 young farmers killed by army in Capiz

ILOILO City – Family members of casualties killed in latest Maayon incident confirmed that their relatives are civilian farmers and not members of the New People’s Army (NPA) as claimed by Lt. Col. Leonardo Peña, battalion commander of the 61st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA).

In a phone interview by Panay Today with relatives of the victims who requested to be not named, they identified the farmer victims to be Ian Borres and Lorendo Borres, cousins and natives of Brgy. Hibaca, Maayon in Capiz province.

According to them, the two farmers are resting after a days work in a makeshift house of their corn-farm together with three other farmers when a seven-member team of the 61st IBPA fired at them around 3:40PM yesterday, February 24.

The group of farmers immediately run in various directions after hearing the gunshots. The cousins were found dead in their corn-farm after the gunshots, their relative added.

The location of the incident is at Sitio Maknoy, which is between the villages of Hibaca and Old Guia in Maayon.

They added that the victims could have been mistakenly identified as NPAs because of their “holen-guns” which are used in hunting birds.

According to Lt. Col. Peña, they encountered the group of Ka Reagan or Romulo Gangoso around 5PM yesterday and claimed that the casualties are members of the NPA.

But the relatives immediately dismissed Peña’s accusations.

“They are just simple farmers who wanted to live peacefully. Right now, we actually fear for our lives as the military continue to deploy more forces in our barangay,” said a relative.

Yesterday, immediately after the incident, two Rio trucks full of soldiers were deployed in the area and another truck just this morning arrived, they added.

The bodies of the victims are still left in the area awaiting the police for investigation.

The relatives demand for justice after the incident. (panaytoday.net)

CPP@48: NPA ready to defend the people and its territories against peace saboteurs

TAPAZ, Capiz – The New People’s Army (NPA) in Central Panay commits that it is ready to defend the people and its territories if the military continues to sabotage the peace process and violate the ceasefire declaration of its commanding chief President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

The pronouncement was made during the historic celebration of the 48th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) last December 26 in an NPA territory here in Tapaz.

“We assure you that we are ready and sincere to pursue just and lasting peace. And if the military is persistent in violating the ceasefire and sabotaging the peace process, we are also more than ready to defend you, our bases and our territories,” said Ka Ding, a political instructor of the Igabon Platoon of Jose Percival Estocada Command of the NPA in Central Panay.

Igabon refers to a mountain in Central Panay. Other units are also named after mountains such as Madia-as, and Ibaloy.

Historic celebration
More than 500 individuals from various villages in the hinterlands of Capiz and invited guests from the urban centers including the media witnessed the celebration which highlighted the people’s call for just and lasting peace.

Peace Talks 101: Delegations attentively listens to and watches the video presentation of the CPP Panay Information Bureau on the updates of peace talks. It stresses on the need for armed struggle to achieve just and lasting peace./Panay Today

“The road to just and lasting peace can only be achieved through the people’s democratic revolution. Only through the people’s armed movement can we dismantle and change the current semi-feudal and semi-colonial Philippine system,” said the CPP in a statement.

The historic celebration, according to Ka Mara, a member of the political department of the Igabon Platoon, is the biggest so far after more than 20 years. The first time it was set again on the founding date, 26.

Military as ceasefire violators
“Previous celebrations were fewer in attendance and celebrated before or after 26, because we have a case before that the military sabotage the celebration by undergoing operations despite ceasefire declaration on the said date, which is also happening now,” she said.

Peace and development teams are still stationed in villages of Acuna and Katipunan in Tapaz of Capiz, which the NPA considered as part of their territory. Meanwhile at Brgy. Cabatangan in Lambunao town of Iloilo, more than 50 troops of the 61st IB/PA are using the barangay hall as their encampment since August, the declaration of the unilateral ceasefire by President Duterte.

“They continue not to acknowledge our territories but uses this information in their psywar tactics against the people,” said Ka Mara.

Last December 19, commanding officer Lt. Col. Leonardo Peña of the 61st IB invited barangay officials to a forum at a military camp in Brgy. Lagdungan, Tapaz. Also present were Capiz provincial and regional directors of the Philippine National Police.

A certain barangay official, who refused to be named, said he had no idea that it was an invitation to the military camp. At first he thought it was on the delivery of material for the construction of a school at his village from the Department of Education.

Later in their discussion, he was tagged as communist supporter where his house was marked red in a map shown to them. The villages of Katipunan, Lahug and Tacayan were also labeled NPA-infested areas and cannot be declared insurgent-free according to Col. Peña.

Support for peace talks
“The people have a very big role to play during the ceasefire season. They must be vigilant. They must be fast in reporting any violations by the military of the ceasefire,” said Ka Mara.

“They must also support and push the peace process and call the government to be sincere in the negotiations such as immediately releasing more than 300 political prisoners that was mutually agreed upon for release during the 1st and 2nd rounds of talks,” she added.

Strengthening the NPA
In their anniversary statement, the CPP-Panay Regional Party Committee said it must maximize the current favorable conditions to advance the people’s war.

“Double the size of the revolutionary armed forces especially the NPA. Firmly grasp this key task in building our main machinery for the advancement of the people’s war. All mass organizations and actions must contribute to the growth of the NPA,” the Party statement said.

It added that the armed revolution must be positioned in all strategic areas in Panay. It must widen its bases and advance the agrarian revolution as political base for doubling the NPA deployments. (John Ian S. Alenciaga | panaytoday.net)

Land depression in Tumandok area confirms unfit for dams, mining

TAPAZ, Capiz – Members of the indigenous tribe Tumandok (Panay-Bukidnon) of Central Panay were shocked on mid-October when portions of Sitio Laugan in the village of Aglinab in this town were found with cracks while some areas suffered from land depression that affected their farm lands and homes.

In an interview with Teresita “Nay Angging” Gayas, a local leader in the sitio, she said that 41 houses were already affected.

The Tumandoks conducted their own investigation last October 29 and measured cracks and coverage of the incident.

PHOTOS: Tumandok initial investigation

“Cracks were found on the floors and outside of our houses. Our vegetable garden was also torn just like a piece of paper,” said Nay Angging in their local dialect.

The Tumandok leader added that some houses have already tilted while some are about to fall to the ground.

In their investigation, the cracks were as wide as 8 feet, with depth of 4 feet and run as long as 100 feet.

“There are a total of 64 households in this sitio. Right now, we were told to relocate but we have no place to transfer yet,” she said worriedly.

The Tumandoks estimated the coverage of damage to 10 hectares.

Relocation and evacuation
The local municipality of Tapaz, by recommendation of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), and the provincial and municipal disaster risk reduction and management offices (PDRRMO and MDRRMO), has ordered evacuation of affected families.

Tapaz Mayor Roberto Palomar also advised the Tumandoks to keep into safety their important documents and useful things at home, farm inputs and animals. He also told them to gather materials that will be needed for their relocation.

But Tumandoks have not yet evacuated the sitio citing there is no place for relocation.

Instead, they made use of their traditional makeshift houses kurob located behind hills where there is no crack yet and which they considered safe.

Kurobs are normally made during typhoons as shelter to avoid strong winds.

Earthquake and heavy rains
In the month of September, two tremors were felt in the area, according to the locals.

“Before the cracks and depression, we remember to have felt earthquakes on September 15 and days after that.”

But on August 15, a 5.4-magnitude earthquake already hit the island of Panay. The magnitude of the quake is 5.1, depth of 48 kilometers and the epicenter located at Valderrama of Antique town.

The tremor was generated by the active West Panay fault line that caused the strongest quake in Panay in 1948.

Sitio Laugan is estimated to be just 15 kilometers from the active known fault.

Heavy rains also came pouring down in the hinterlands of Central Panay starting October 16, they said.

“The rain is non-stop since October 16. Sometimes on daytime, sometimes at night.”

Highly susceptible to landslides
Tapaz municipality is considered “highly prone to landslides” according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) MGB report.

According to MGB, areas classified as “highly and moderately susceptible to landslide” in the geohazard assessment and mapping should be vacated especially during rainy season.

The MGB data have also classified 564 villages that are highly susceptible while 550 villages are moderately susceptible to landslides.

NIA drillings
The Tumandoks suspected that drilling activities near their sitio may have also triggered the movements.

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is set to erect another mega dam this time in the Pan-ay river of Capiz. The dam area is said to be at Sitio Garo of Acunia village, several kilometers away from Laugan.

Since January, the NIA has conducted several drilling activities at Sitio Garo where an accident has already occurred last year when a backhoe overturned due to land erosion that severely hurt the driver.

The drilling activity is part of the feasibility study of the NIA for the said dam.

Another mega dam of NIA along the Jalaur River has faced delay in construction for three years now due to strong oppositions by the Tumandoks.

Not fit for dams, mining
“It is clear now for us that indeed our area is not fit for mega dams and mining. We also don’t want our lands to be submerged in water that will cost us our lives and livelihood,” said TUMANDUK organization chairperson Marevic Aguirre.

Aguirre’s village Lahug which she also serves as captain, adjacent to Aglinab, remains the only village to have not approved of the feasibility study by the NIA.

“The situation in Laugan could just be a tip of an iceberg. When the drillings continue and the dam is erected, many more communities shall suffer the same,” Aguirre said.

“The entry of mining activities will also greatly affect our lands. Mining itself will directly wipe out our villages and will contaminate our water sources which we enjoy in abundance, fresh and for free,” she added.

In-depth study
Though the PHIVOLCS, MGB, PDRRMO and MDRRMO have already conducted initial investigations, a more in-depth and comprehensive study is still needed to assess the range and impact of the incident, the group suggested.

“Initially the PHIVOLCS told us that our sitio could turn into a “hidden lake” in the mountains,” said Nay Angging.

“In which case, we want to know exactly what will happen to our sitio and is this just an isolated case or other villages will also face the same danger,” she added.

The Tumandoks will be having dialogues with various agencies for the conduct of these studies and will seek assistance in time of relocation.

The Tumandoks of Panay are the largest indigenous group largely located along major Jalaur and Pan-ay rivers. (John Ian S. Alenciaga | panaytoday.net)