For Immediate Release
March 25, 2015
Reference: Joelle Eliza Lingat, Chairperson, Anakbayan New Jersey
Bukidnon’s Bungkalan & Bullets: Members of Indigenous Peoples’ Organization Struggling for Ancestral Domain Ambushed; One Killed & Two Wounded
Anakbayan New Jersey condemns the predatory killing of Tata Baito and armed violence against Japsem Bagna and Ricky Tumbaga. The three are part of Lumad organization, Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (TINDOGA), fighting for the rightful ownership of their ancestral lands.
On March 24, 2015, Tata Baito was killed by hired armed guards of Pablo “Poling” Lorenzo, the illegitimate landlord of Montalvan Ranch. Japsem Bagna and Ricky Tumbaga were also severely injured by gunfire and there has been a lack of government response. The three were on their way to plant crops in preparation for the mild El Niño phenomenon, which creates higher temperatures that are unsuitable for farming.
TINDOGA is recognized as true claimants of 630 hectares of ancestral domain, of which Lorenzo’s land is a part of. The Manobo-Pulangihons were displaced after their lease with the government expired in 2009. Since March 16, 2015, with the strength of 200 individuals and four other groups, the Lumads have been reasserting their right to the land through a bungkalan, or peasant protest where they seize the land back and plant crops in it.
Baito, Bagna, and Tumbaga were on their way to the site when Lorenzo’s 20 to 30 armed men opened fire on them. The helpless three could only run from the barrage of Garand, Armalite rifles, and shotguns of their assailants. Reports of harassment and attacks by Lorenzo’s security force have been reported since 2012, but this has been the highest escalation of violence thus far.
In August 2014, two Anakbayan New Jersey members integrated with the indigenous peoples’ communities of TINDOGA members. The exposurists participated in production work, psychosocial therapy, and the feeding program. “We did not just listen to the firsthand accounts of their struggle, but viscerally felt it shaking within our bones. Our outrage in light of these attacks are amplified not only as human rights violations, but because they are attacks on a community that has welcomed us as family and sheltered us in their homes. As Filipinx Americans activists we do not just live and laugh with the Lumads in our privilege to come and go, but we must struggle alongside them, especially now with the heightened violence,” said Joelle Eliza Lingat, Chairperson of Anakbayan New Jersey.
As Filipinx Americans at the fringes of the Philippine diaspora, we must defend the rights of our living ancestors, the Lumads. The indigenous peoples’ of the Philippines experience multiple levels of oppression as a national minority within a country plagued by imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism, and feudalism. Our struggle for national democracy is a struggle for the Lumad people. Return the ancestral lands of the indigenous peoples!