Duterte: Lawmaker to blame for clash in Lumad evacuees' site
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday, July 25, blamed a North Cotabato lawmaker for the violence that erupted when authorities raided a temporary shelter of Lumad evacuees in Davao City to return them to their communities.
Duterte said the incident on Thursday, July 23, could have been avoided if it were better handled by North Cotabato 2nd District Representative Nancy Catamco.
"Clearly the situation was mishandled," Duterte said.
He said he had a standing order to the police to avoid a bloody confrontation but apparently Catamco stepped in while he was in Manila.
The lawmaker brought in the police to forcibly bring back around 700 Lumads to their villages. She asserted that they were being illegally detained by groups inside the compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
Catamco had also decried the poor sanitation at the site.
The Lumads from Talaingod, Davao del Norte, and San Fernando, Bukidnon, refused to go with Catamco unless the military and Alamara, a paramilitary group, moved out of their communities.
Tribal leader Datu Doloman Dawsay alleged that soldiers and the Alamara harassed and assaulted them, while their schools and houses were transformed into garrisons.
Duterte said the problem ran "deep."
"It is really ideology that's working out there. The Alamara is the armed component of the government that was let loose in the mountains and they strike fear in the hearts of the Lumads," he said.
Catamco earlier criticized Duterte for issuing an "irresponsible statement" when he said the Lumad evacuees issue could only be resolved through talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines.
"That's not irresponsible. I'm teaching her the niceties of life," Duterte said.
He added: "She should have gone to either the Department of Justice or the Commission on Human Rights to do something. She's a legislator. She's not supposed to take the law into her own [hands] just because she's the representative of the Lumad."
Catamco chairs the House committee on indigenous peoples.
The Mayor said he will ask the National Bureau of Investigation or the Commission on Human Rights to probe the incident, as the confrontation hurt at least 18 people, mostly evacuees and their supporters. – Rappler.com