Catholic Church leaders in the southern Philippine province of Bukidnon have expressed support for the Indigenous People (IP) who were displaced in recent weeks after a shooting incident in the tribe’s ancestral domain.
“We join the condemnation of the indiscriminate shooting by the [security personnel] of [Kiantig Development Corporation] against members of the IP community and their supporters,” read a statement signed by Archbishop Jose Cabantan of Cagayan de Oro, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, and Bishop Noel Pedregosa of Malaybalay.
The shooting incident happened when members of the Manobo-Pulangiyon tribe entered the land in Barangay Butong, Quezon town, along with presidential candidate Leodegario “Ka Leody” de Guzman and two of his senatorial candidates, Roy Cabonegro and David D’Angelo.
De Guzman, Cabonegro, and D’Angelo were unharmed, but five residents were injured.
Based on the accounts of witnesses, the armed men started shooting at the group, causing the stampede.
In their statement, the bishops noted that the April 19 shooting was the second incident since 2014 when the people were shot at also by security personnel of the company.
The Church leaders also decried what they described as the “red-tagging” of supporters of the people “in their struggle to reclaim their ancestral domain.”
The bishops referred to the allegations that the Indigenous People in the area are members or sympathizers of the communist-led New People’s Army.
The religious leaders appealed to the management of the company to abide by a “cease and desist order” issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples on April 29.
Part of the 1,111-hectare ancestral land is occupied by the Kiantig Development Corporation, which is reportedly engaged in pineapple production in the contested property.
Leave a Reply