Lumad groups call for immediate release of Higaonon leader

Lumad group Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN) held a press conference on March 11 to call for the immediate release of Datu Jomorito Goaynon, the vice chairperson of KALUMARAN and chair of the regional alliance of Kalumbay in Cagayan de Oro city. He was charged with criminal cases and rebellion violations under Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA).

According to KALUMARAN, Datu Goaynon was taken by the combined elements of the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police on January 28, 2019, together with peasant leader Ireneo Ubarde. The two were accosted while riding a jeepney on the way to a scheduled dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) . Later that day, another arrest was played out before the public along the highway, this time with planted evidence of explosive and firearms in their bags.

First test case of HSA

KALUMARAN called to drop the charges against Datu Goaynon and Ireneo Ubarde, as well as for the government to stop using the HSA to silence critics.

“Ang HSA ang ginamit na batas laban doon sa pagsusulong ng mga katutubong mamamayan para sa sariling pagpapasya lalo’t na kami sa Mindanao. Doon sa aming sariling pagpapasya ay pagdepensa sa ating lupang ninuno [para] hindi ibigay doon sa mga foreign investors at abusuhin. Kundi isinusulong lang namin yung pagpapalago at sustainable agriculture para sa mga katutubo pero binigyang-laya ng gobyerno ang mga foreign investors at kaming mga katutubo ay dinidikit sa pag-red-tagging kaya kinakasuhan ang mga katutubo ng HSA para patahimikin” said Dulphing Ogan, KALUMARAN Secretary General.

The HSA imposes a penalty of reclusion perpetua or lifetime imprisonment on a person found guilty with no chance of parole. It is also a non-bailable case.

For KALUMARAN, the HSA is an alarming and an unusual case of anti-terrorism effort under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration as the law has again been used as a tool to silence government critics.

HSA was first targeted to be used against terrorism during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency when the law was passed. It allowed warrantless arrests and surveillance but imposes hefty fines on government for every day a person is wrongfully detained.

The law is being amended before Congress adjourned. Among some provisions proposed are the removal of the payment of damages, warrantless arrests with detention up to 30 days, and allows surveillance on suspected terrorists and conspirators up to the time they are proven innocent.

KALUMARAN also decried that while HSA is being used by the government to quell legitimate dissent, massive militarization, forced evacuation, red-tagging were being implemented in the countryside of Mindanao. According to the group, there are at least 4,000 Lumads forcibly displaced because of militarization in their communities, while 85 Lumad schools have been closed.

The group ended the press conference with a call to free Datu Jomorito Goaynon and lift the martial law in Mindanao.


Date: March 12, 2019

Photo credit: