On the Militarization of Higaonon Communities in Misamis Oriental

Militarization tramples Higaonon Indigenous Peoples Right to Self-Determination,
isregards their human rights, and violates FPIC!

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) extends its highest solidarity with the Higaonon Lumad peoples of Misamis Oriental, Philippines who struggle to defend their ancestral lands from resource plunder and militarization.

Higaonon people were forcibly evacuated from their ancestral lands after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) occupied their village, and subjected them to threats, harassment, and intimidation. Last May 26, the battalion-size military built their camp in the ancestral lands of Higaonon as a prelude to the entry of so-called development projects. Military camps and detachments in their territory are set up by the State and corporation to quell any resistance from the community and protect the business interests of private entities. The experiences of Higaonon and Lumad peoples underscores militarization as a scheme to force forward development projects in their ancestral lands that do not reflect the genuine needs and aspirations of Indigenous communities. At the expense of the Higaonon’s right to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), local government favors large corporations and businesses.

Threats, violence, and intimidation brought by militarization instill fear in the IP communities. Military elements force the local community to confess that they are members of the communist rebels, New People’s Army (NPA), and surrender. Some of them were tied and rough-handled among other physical abuses.

The rich resources in the ancestral lands of Higaonon in the town of Lagonglong, adjacent to the Mount Balatukan, is known for its hot springs and inactive volcano viable for geothermal energy development. The untouched gold deposits in the nearby lakes has also been reported as target for mining and extractive projects.

For IP and other national minorities, land is life. Indigenous communities have the most important role in determining the future of our ancestral land that is closely linked to our identity and right to self-determination. All forms of development projects and militarization that threaten to plunder ancestral lands and IP ways of life are inexcusable and is a grave violation of our rights.

We call on the all Indigenous communities, IP rights advocates, human rights defenders, and peace advocates all over the world to stand and support the Higaonon’s demand to safely go back to their villages. We demand the total pull out of military forces in our ancestral lands, and any future encampments in any IP territory. Let us fight together to defeat all attempts of exploitation and oppression by the ruling elites. Let us stand in solidarity with all struggling Indigenous communities for the recognition and actual realization of IP right to self-determination and self-determined sustainable development in the Philippines and in all parts of the world.




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