NDF hails tribal people’s attacks on Mindanao mine facilities
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines—The National Democratic Front on Saturday defended the attacks mounted by armed B’laan natives on facilities of Xstrata’s Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), and of firms associated with the mining company in the hinterlands of Davao del Sur, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
In a statement, the NDF Southern Mindanao said these attacks, including Thursday’s ambush by the group led by the Capion brothers Dagil, Batas and Kitari, were justified as they were in defense of their ancestral domain.
Retired police officer Superintendent Villamindo Hectin, an SMI security consultant, and Police Officer 2 Rey Tonzo of the Davao del Sur police office were killed in Thursday’s ambush in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.
The NDF said the B’laan natives were standing up against SMI, whose large-scale mining project threatened their ancestral domain.
The NDF said that based on what the Capion brothers told its officials, the attacks were part of a “pangayaw” or the natives’ way of fighting perceived intruders.
“The pangayaw spokesman had said they wanted to make their opposition to SMI noticed. He said they were fighting the mining company, which wanted them out of their own lands,” the NDF statement said.
The NDF said the tribal warriors also targeted police and soldiers because “they were instrumental in the harassment against the natives.”
The NDF said it “commended the courage and continuing vigilance of the Red Pangayaw who have resorted to the Lumad’s cultural tradition of armed confrontation as their most effective means to defend their ancestral land and their existence as a tribe.”
In Digos City, Kiblawan Mayor Marivic Diamante, who had earlier urged the police to hunt down the armed B’laans, admitted that there was indeed an existing declaration of Pangayaw by the natives. But Diamante said it was not against SMI itself but against fellow B’laans who support the mining company.
She said the attackers were part of a B’laan group whose demands for employment by the company had not been granted.
Senior Insp. Francis Sonza, provincial director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police in Davao del Sur, said the police were determined to arrest the B’laan natives responsible for the violence in the boundaries of Davao del Sur, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
The main problem, he said, was that the Capion brothers had forged an alliance with the New People’s Army.
“That was why it was difficult for us to arrest them,” he said.