Anti-mining indigenous leader ambushed

Voltaire Tupaz
Timuay Locencio Manda has been leading the Subanen tribe's campaign to claim and protect their ancestral domain from mining and logging operations

MANILA, Philippines — Timuay Locencio Manda, the anti-mining chieftain of the Subanen tribe, was ambushed by unidentified men at 7:20 am, September 4, in Barangay Conacon in the town of Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, Amnesty International reported.

His son, 11-year-old Jordan Manda, died in the ambush.

BIG LOSS. Jordan, 11-year-old son of a tribal chieftain in Zamboanga del Sur, is a big loss to the family and community. Photo by Vicky Cajandig

“Jordan suffered a fatal wound on the back, instantly killing him. Timuay Manda suffered minor wounds and is now safe,” said Romel de Vera of Amnesty International.

“In my effort to assert our rights and to protect our people and ancestral domain, my beloved son was sacrificed. It is very painful and I thirst for justice. I vow to continue my struggle in order not to make my son’s death in vain. I need your support in this most trying time of my life as a father and a leader,” said Timuay Manda in a text message to Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM).

Timuay Manda told groups supportive of his cause that he has been receiving death threats for the past 3 years because of his fierce opposition to extractive industries in the area, ATM said. 

Claimant of ancestral domain claim

Timuay Manda has been leading the Subanen tribe’s campaign to claim and protect their ancestral domain from mining and logging operations.

He is one of the head claimants of the Subanen Indigenous Community Ancestral Domain in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, according to the Partnership Forum on Indigenous People’s Peacebuilding in Mindanao (PFIPPiM).

Timuay Manda’s cousin, Timuay Giovanni Umbang, was also assassinated in 2002, indigenous peoples groups said.

The two indigenous leaders have actively opposed extractive industries in their area and blocked efforts of mining and logging companies to secure the tribe’s free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) to various mining and logging companies, according to Beverly Longid, chairperson of the indigenous partlylist group Katribu.

“He actively figured together with Catholic Bishops and concerned groups in the filing of a Writ of Kalikasan to protect the Pinukis Forest Range, one of the remaining forest frontiers in the Peninsula that is covered by various mining applications,” Longid said.

The ancestral domain of the Subanens in Bayog has 8 mining permit applications, 3 approved Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA), one approved Exploration Permit, and numerous illegal small-scale mining operations.

Congressional inquiry

Ifugao Congressman Teddy Brawner-Baguilat, chairperson of the House Committee on National Cultural Communities, vowed to conduct a congressional investigation on the ambush of the indigenous leader and the killing of his son.

“We will investigate this at the House Committee of National Cultural Communities, and I call on national government agencies such as National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Commission on Human Rights, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to immediately find the truth. I also call on President Aquino to immediately order a moratorium on all mining activities in the whole Zamboange Peninsula to prevent further escalation of violence in the area,” Baguilat said.

“This ambush against Timuay Manda is a direct assault against all Subanens and all indigenous peoples. I condemn this violent act. The strong leadership of Timuay Manda must be supported and nurtured,” Baguilat added.

Not an isolated case

“This incident against Timuay Manda is not an isolated incident. In the past months, we have seen an escalation of violation on indigenous peoples’ human rights. These attacks as indigenous peoples heighten their defense of ancestral lands against corporate incursions of mining, logging and commercial plantations, and accompanying militarization of indigenous communities,” Longid said.

“This latest incident underscores the strong links between human rights violations and the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the country,” ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said.

Garganera reminded President Benigno Aquino III that it must look into the killings of indigenous peoples as the country’s human rights record is up for UN review this year.

Meanwhile, PFIPPiM called upon the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately demobilize 617 private armies in Bayog. There are 129 AFP and Philippine National Police personnel assigned in the area. –

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