2022 Philippine Elections

NCIP serves desist order on firm behind attack on Leody, displaced Lumad

Bobby Lagsa
NCIP serves desist order on firm behind attack on Leody, displaced Lumad

DISPLACED. The makeshift houses of the Manobo-Pulangihon tribal families of Kiantig Botong, Quezon, Bukidnon.

Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

(1st UPDATE) The real test is whether Quezon, Bukidnon Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III and his men will really leave so that the Manobo Pulaguion can take over their ancestral land, says De Guzman's running mate Walden Bello

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on Saturday, April 30, served a cease and desist order (CDO) against Kiantig Development Corporation (KDC) based in Kiantig-Butong, Quezon, Bukidnon.

The NCIP move came less than two weeks after armed men, allegedly guards of the company, fired at presidential candidate Leody de Guzman’s group as they joined Lumad of the Manobo-Pulangiyon tribe in highlighting their ancestral domain plaint.

Arnel Angcosin, secretary-general of the Kiantig Manobo-Pulangiyon Tribal Association, said NCIP Region X Director Anna Burgos served the CDO at the gates of KDC and was set to send a copy of the same to the office of Quezon town Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III, the former general manager of KDC.

Burgos was joined by representatives from the Commission on Human Rights, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Philippine Army, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, and the Philippine National Police.

The NCIP order enjoined “the operators and owners of the KDC, all persons claiming rights under it, and all illegal occupants of the Manobo-Pulangiyon ancestral domain located in the municipality of Quezon, province of Bukidnon in view of the expiration of the FLGMA 122 and the absence of the Free and Prior Informed Consent from the recipients of the ancestral domain.”

Angcosin was not impressed.

“A notice to vacate was once served to KDC before, but nothing happened,” Angcosin pointed out.

“I am not hopeful. Some tribe members are hopeful, but I am not,” Angcosin said of the order for KDC to vacate Lumad land within 15 days.

“They have been given a notice before, but nothing happened. The CDO is just a piece of paper that cannot be enforced,” Angcosin added.

Driven out

Two days after the shooting, police seized firearms from the security group of KDC..

Police Northern Mindanao spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Olaivar said the guards could not present any Commission on Elections document showing they are exempt from the gun ban that started on January 9. He also said that investigators found that five members of the security group were unlicensed and not wearing uniforms.

Olaivar told Rappler on April 21 that KDC was now managed by one Marco Lorenzo based in Davao City, whose relation to Mayor Lorenzo has not been determined yet.

The mayor has told the media that he used to work for the company but left when he was elected to his current post.

Mayor Lorenzo said he met with the NCIP, the Lumad farmers, and the police on April 18, the day before the shooting incident, to thresh out issues about the disputed property.

Olaivar said one of the wounded filed his complaint with the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Malaybalay City on April 23.

“The complainant filed frustrated murder charge against one individual, whose name I cannot divulge yet, and three other John Does” Olaivar said.

The Lumad said KDC is illegally occupying 1,100 hectares of land belonging to the tribe. The IP ancestral domain is located at Barangays Butong and San Jose in Quezon town.

Rolando Anglao (left) contemplates the future of their displaced tribe on the site of makeshift homes along the road just three meters away from the fenced land they once owned. (Bobby Lagsa/Rappler)

Since 2017, after being driven out by KDC, about a thousand families belonging to the Manobo-Pulangiyon tribe have been living in makeshift shelters beside the national highway in Quezon, just a few meters from their ancestral land.

In 1986, an entity called Cesar Fortich Inc. was able to secure a 25-year Forest Land Graze Management Agreement (FLGMA) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). That lease expired in 2018.

Sometime in 2007, Cesar Fortich Inc. changed its name to KDC and appointed Mayor Lorenzo as its general manager.

Rolando Anglao, son of Datu Brexio Anglao, the tribe’s deceased chieftain, said his counsin Renato Anglao was “murdered in 2017 in the course of our land struggle.”

Renato was the secretary-general of the Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group (Tindoga) when he was killed by three men.

Real test

De Guzman’s running mate Walden Bello echoed Angcosin’s sentiments in a sharper tone.

Posting his comments on a post by NCIP chairman Allen A. Capuyan, Bello said, “The real test is whether Mayor Lorenzo and his goons will really leave, so that the Manobo Pulaguion can take over the 900 hectares. Otherwise, the CDO is just a piece of paper, and this is just NCIP propaganda.”

“I was with Ka Leody in the meeting with the Manobos the night before the goons of Mayor Lorenzo fired on them as they tried to occupy four hectares of vacant land, and they said the NCIP’s Notice to Vacate given to Lorenzo nearly three years ago was simply ignored by him and his corporation continues to illegally occupy the land,” Bello added.

“All agencies seem to be scared of this local politician with ties to the president,” Bello said. – Rappler.com