Bantay Kita strongly condemns the death of seven (7) members of the Indigenous Peoples T’boli-Munobo S’daf Claimant Organization (TAMASCO) during an anti-insurgency military operation in Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Mindnanao, on December 3, 2017. TAMASCO tribal chieftain Datu Victor Danyan, his two sons Tantan, Jr. and Artemio, and son-in-law Dodoy were among the casualties.
Known to the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples, local government, and the Philippine Army as a staunch advocate the tribe’s land rights Datu Victor had been engaging in government processes and multi-stakeholder platforms since late 1990s. As TAMASCO chieftain, he had made known his tribe’s staunch opposition to the coffee plantation operated by Silvicultural Industries (SII), a subsidiary of David M Consunji, Inc. (DMCI). SII had been awarded Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) 22 which would have expired in December 2016. IFMA 22 covers about 11,000 hectares.
TAMASCO’s ancestral domain encompasses land in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, two provinces that share a political boarder. TAMASCO claims another agreement (IFMA 22-2007) which integrates and effectively extends IFMA 22, did not seek Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) from the tribe. FPIC is a crucial step that allows the IPs to decide to allow or prevent the implementation of a project within their ancestral domain. Both IFMAs pertain to areas in Sultan Kudarat. IFMA 18-2007 was awarded to M&S Company, another DMCI subsidiary. It should be noted that of the approximately 29,000 hectares granted under IFMA in Sultan Kudarat, over 25,000 hectares has been conferred to DMCI subsidiaries.
Through recent negotiations with government, TAMASCO alleges that it had been given the right to carve out 300 hectares of its ancestral domain from the prevailing IFMA. This had yet to be implemented. Meanwhile another DMCI subsidiary, DMC-Construction Equipment Resources Inc. (DMC-CERI) had been awarded a Coal Operating Contract (COC) in the area. To date, San Miguel Energy Corporation has a pending application that would also impact the TAMASCO ancestral domain.
Through, multi-stakeholder engagements and available government platforms and processes, TAMASCO had openly opposed these projects in their desire to have control over their ancestral domain.
Bantay Kita is deeply concerned that killings of advocates like Datu Victor Danyan are legitimized by military operations under the blanket of martial law prevailing in Mindanao. We demand for a fact-finding mission to uncover the truth and work towards ensuring that civic space is not threatened by such atrocities.
Bantay Kita demands that the Government uphold the fundamental freedoms and provide safe spaces to express, organize and affiliate.