MAKATI—Indigenous peoples from KATRIBU Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas along with environment activists conducted a protest action at the office of D.M. Consunji, Inc (DMCI) on Friday, June 5, on the commemoration of the World Environment Day. KATRIBU scored the construction corporation over issues of environmental destruction and human rights violations.
“Not only has DMCI have an abysmal environmental record, it also infringes on human rights by its use of a private army to eliminate its critics on the ground,” Piya Macliing Malayao, KATRIBU spokesperson said.
Recently, John Calaba, a 28-year-old Manobo activist and public information officer of local indigenous peoples’ organization KIDUMA (Kisasabanay sa Dulangan Manobo) went missing in his hometown of Sitio Salabantran, Brgy. Sabanal, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat. Calaba was last seen on April 30, at around 9:00 AM in the company of DMCI guards. Gunshots were heard around the DMCI area around 10:00 AM, witnesses say. A vehicle was seen exiting the area afterwards, which left a trail of blood. Calaba remains missing, and is feared dead by locals and human rights organizations.
“We hold the DMCI guards and the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) for his disappearance. We demand his immediate surfacing,” Malayao said.
Calaba was a known leader vocal in criticizing the environmental effects and land-grabbing of DMCI in the area and is seen as reason for his disappearance and possible extrajudicial killing.
According to KATRIBU, DMCI have driven away the Dulangan Manobo from their ancestral lands. Their farms planted with native and various crops were cleared out and then bulldozed. They have also been prevented from tilling their own lands, and are being harassed by company guards and are being compelled to pay for the company’s safe conduct pass.
Malayao also blasted DMCI’s use of a “legitimized private army” to threaten and harass the Manobo people.
According to Malayao, the Aquino government continued the formation of the Investment Defense Force (IDF), unveiled in 2008 by former President Arroyo to protect mining and energy investments. The IDF is a cooperation of private security groups and the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the charge of securing businesses.
“The creation and continuance of the Investment Defense Force is a direct attack against the people and an affront to human rights in general. Imagine goons, armed with the best weapons mining corporations and plantation owners could buy, trained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and legitimized by the President, are going after indigenous people and ordinary citizens who are critical of projects and businesses. It is an abomination to democracy that corporations have an army under their thumb,” Malayao said.
DMCI guards in its operations in Sultan Kudarat are said to have been trained by the 38th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.
“Paramilitary groups and other mercenaries on payroll by big businesses are terrorizing Lumad villages all over Mindanao. In his policy for retaining paramilitary groups and the Investment Defense Force, BS Aquino is responsible for perpetuating the reigning culture of impunity,” Malayao added.
KATRIBU is pushing for the revocation of Executive Order 546, that legitimizes the creation of collaborative defense force between the government and private security forces.#
Piya Macliing Malayao, 0917-3631576 Spokesperson
Lea Fullon, 0998-2972500, Public Information Officer