UPDATES on Sitio Bulak, Olave, Agusan del Norte Lumad evacuees

UPDATES on Sitio Bulak, Olave, Agusan del Norte Lumad evacuees.

Around 120 displaced Lumads encamped since August 27, 2018 at the Multi-Purpose hall of Olave, staged a picket rally in front of the Buenavista Municipal Hall. The Lumads called for the pull-out of the 23rd IBPA military contingents in Sitio Bulak for their safe return to their homes.

During the rally, five Lumad leaders from the evacuees joined by other Lumad and Human Rights advocates initiated a dialogue with Mayor Norberto Pagaspas. The evacuees’ position letter gives a background of their current situation, the reason for their evacuation and their demands to their right to self-determination.

The discussion revolved on their hopes to go home safely, attend to their basic needs which includes food and toiletries, the letter from the army stating that the whole community will be strafed if they do not surrender as members of the New People’s Army and the community’s call for justice on the death of Res Hangadon, a 23-year old Lumad farmer who was shot dead by soldiers, which brought up their call to resume peace talks and ultimately, end martial law in Mindanao.

Immediately after the dialogue, the Mayor went outside to talk to the group and told them that he will take care of providing necessities for the next three months. In addition, he promised to take care of the ritual expenses following the death due to sickness of one of the community’s Baylan (an indigenous religious leader, who functions as a healer, a shaman, and a community “miracle-worker”).

Most importantly, earlier today — Mayor Pagaspas went to the Multi-purpose hall of Olave and gave them the news that they will be assisted by the Local Government Unit of Buenavista in their safe return on Saturday, December 1, 2018. This is after he sat down and met with the 23rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. The Mayor also promised that he will personally conduct monthly visits to Sitio Bulak to check on their situation and ensure their safety and give assistance from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development office. To top the conversation, Mayor Pagaspas also said that the pending construction of a detachment unit in Bulak will not push through. Meanwhile, the case of Res Hangadon has been filed to the Commission on Human Rights Region XIII for follow-up.

This is a very good springboard towards achieving peace and serenity of our Lumad brethrens in Sitio Bulak.

Source: Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao Region

Date: November 28, 2018