The Dumagat are the Indigenous Peoples from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions of the Philippines. The Dumagat people live simple, semi-nomadic lives: they build temporary shelters and collect their food from the natural resources around them and after these sources are depleted, they move to another place while letting the resources in the previous settlement recover. This time, they are moving out of their homes, not as part of their traditional practice but because of the militarization of their communities.

Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, a national alliance of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines and one of the member formations of the IPMSDL based in the Philippines, led a National Peace & Humanitarian Mission in the Dumagat Evacuation Site on May 24-25, 2018. See report and photos from the 1st mission here.

A 2nd mission was conducted on June 29-30 with Protect Sierra Madre and other volunteer organizations including IPMSDL to obtain updates since the 1st mission and to provide a second wave of relief for the evacuees.

On May 14, 2018, the 80th Infantry Battalion and 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army illegally arrested and tortured two Dumagats, namely Rockey Torres and Dandoy Avillanida, accusing them as members of the communist New People’s Army.

“Nung dumating sila, parang nasakal kami” (When [the soldiers] arrived, it was like we were being suffocated)

Over 600 Dumagat villagers from the upland communities of General Nakar, Quezon were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge along the nearby Umiray River. There they set up makeshift shelters made of pieces of wood, tree branches, and tarpaulin. But after some time, barangay officials asked them to leave the site claiming that the settlement has made the area unsanitary. The makeshift shelters were also burned by the officials and the soldiers to ensure that the evacuees really leave the site. 

One of the Dumagat evacuees said that their people are decreasing in number because of inaccessibility of social services such as health services. For the residents of Barangay Umiray, the nearest hospital is at least an hour of travel and their meager income is hardly enough to  cover for the medicine expenses. One of the Dumagats claimed that he is able to earn 70 pesos (approximately 1.30 USD) for 1 sack of rattan but it takes 4 days to fill a sack, including transportation on river and land.

Pushed into isolation, and far from the mainstream, Indigenous Peoples are among the marginalized sectors of the Philippines. The intrusion of military forces in the communities further aggravate their marginalized state by depriving them of their rights to ancestral land and ways of life. We at IPMSDL condemn the militarization and harassment of Indigenous communities and its members.

We urge the Philippine Government to give attention to the rights and welfare of the Indigenous Peoples in the country. Further, we hold the government and its armed forces accountable for these acts of ethnocide. Instead of providing basic social services to its people, it has invested more in its military activities that puts civilians at risks and violates their economic, social, and cultural rights 

PULL OUT MILITARY TROOPS FROM INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES!

 

Reference: Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator | info@ipmsdl.org