Anti-mining tribe leader in Zamboanga ambushed, 11-year old son killed

At present, the ancestral domain of the Subanen’s in Bayog has eight mining permit applications, three approved Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA), one approved Exploration Permit and numerous illegal small-scale mining operations.

By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Anti-mining groups have decried the ambush of a Subanen tribe elder and leader and the killing of his son in Zambonga at 7:20 a.m. on September 4.

The 11-year old Jordan Manda was killed while his father, Subanen chieftain Timuay Locencio Manda, sustained minor wounds when they were ambushed by unidentified men, in Barangay Conacon, Bayog town, Zamboanga del Sur. Timuay Manda is the Barangay Chairperson of Barangay Conacon while his eldest son is studying at the Bubuan Elementary School, some five kilometers from his residence in Conacon. The father and son were riding their motorbike when they were shot at by unidentified assailants.

According to reports from Amnesty International, Jordan suffered a fatal wound on the back which instantly killed him, while the father suffered relatively minor wounds.

According to reports from Alyansa Tigil Mina, Timuay Manda was at the forefront of the Subanen’s claim for and protection of their ancestral domain, since his cousin Timuay Giovanni Umbang was assassinated in 2002. They have opposed mining and logging in their area and refused to issue their free prior and informed consent (FPIC) to various mining and logging companies.Both Timuay Giovanni and Timuay Manda questioned the entry of logging and mining in their ancestral domain without the FPIC as required under national and international laws.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner-Baguilat, in a statement, also spoke against the violence. He said that the House Committee of National Cultural Communities, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Commission on Human Rights, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process should launch investigations into the ambush.

“I also call on President Benigno Aquino III to immediately order a moratorium on all mining activities in the whole Zamboange Peninsula to prevent further escalation of violence in the area,” Baguilat said.

According to reports, Timuay Manda has been receiving death threats for the past three years because of his stand against mining activities in the region.

In a text message sent to the media, he said, “In my effort to assert our rights and to protect our people and ancestral domain, my beloved son was sacrificed. It is very painful and I thirst for justice. I vow to continue my struggle in order not to make my son’s death in vain. I need your support in this most trying time of my life as a father and a leader.”

Jordan was said to have been in training as a future Timuay or chieftain of his community. He was a fifth grade student and one of the top five in his his class in Bubuan Elementary School. Despite his youth, he was often the youngest participant in weekend meetings of the community leaders where issues of ancestral rights were discussed.

Mining as motive for the ambush

There are three approved Mineral Production Sharing Agreements in the Subanen ancestral domains. The ATM said that pending the results of the initial investigation, it believes that the ambush is connected to the opposition of the indigenous peoples in the region against destructive mining in their ancestral lands.

The group said this latest incident underscore the strong links between human rights violations and the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the country.

At present, the ancestral domain of the Subanen’s in Bayog has eight mining permit applications, three approved Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA), one approved Exploration Permit and numerous illegal small-scale mining operations.

According to reports, Timuay Manda led a group of Timuays from Bayog and neighboring ancestral domains in calling for a moratorium on all forms of mining in their ancestral domains until they could have their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) and Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) of their domains. He is also active in efforts to unite all Subanen tribe leaders and members in the Central Zamboanga Peninsula to claim and protect their remaining contiguous ancestral domain.

He is also one of the petitioners in the Writ of Kalikasan to protect the Pinukis Range Forest, among the last untouched forest region in the Zamboanga Peninsula which is included in the mining claims of several companies. Mt. Pinukis is considered by the Subanen people of Zamboanga Peninsula as among their sacred mountains. The Pinukis Range Forest serve as watershed of three major rice-growing regions in the peninsula that produces about 30 percent of the rice in the region. ()

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