Citizens Disaster Response Center | CDRC

Lumad and peasant communities in Agusan and Surigao del Norte displaced

02

Apr 12

0

In 2011, Caraga region has suffered from heightened militarization, continuing and ever increasing in intensity since February this year. Combat operations are accompanied by bombings and aerial strikes targeting mountain areas where lumad communities live.  The Lumad-Mamanwa communites in Zapanta Valley, Brgy. Bangayan, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte and Ferlda, Alegria, Surigao del Norte, Lusong, Brgy. Putting Bato, Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte, Sitio Manhumapay, Bargy. Banagayan, kitcharao, Agusan del Norte have become perennial targets on intensive militarization of the countryside.

Last March 4-6, 2012, members of the 30th IBPA and 3rd Special Forces of 402nd Brigade launched combat operations.  Indiscriminate firing, shelling and airstrikes were executed simultaneously. They targeted the nearby mountain areas of Sitio Zapanta Valley spreading fear among the residents. This forced the residents to evacuate and seek shelter at Brgy. Bangayan, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte.

Once again the youth, elderly, women, children, the sick and the lumad people of Zapanta braved the 9 kilometer muddy trek at around 5 in the afternoon of March 6, 2012. The 45 families or 125 individuals arrived at the Multi-Purpose Hall of Brgy. Bangayan at around 8 o’clock in the evening.

As the airstrikes continued and military troops entered the populated areas, 80 peasant families or 279 individuals followed and evacuated last March 11, 2012. At present there are 149 lumad-Mamanwa and peasant families with 429 individuals temporarily sheltered at the Barangay Multi-Purpose Hall in Brgy. Bangayan, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte. These families also evacuated last June 2010, and twice last April and June 2011 because of militarization and violations against their human rights.

Meanwhile, 76 families with 276 individuals are presently scattered in Alegria, Surigao del Norte. Of this, 52 families are lumad-Mamanwas. They evacuated from their communities last February 28, 2012 when around 80 elements from the 30th and 38th IB PA launched their COPD and combat operations in Brgy. Ferlda, Alegria, Surigao del Norte. Even as residents evacuated because of military presence in their community, the military joined them as they hiked the 18 kilometers towards Brgy. Ombong. The soldiers inserted themselves in the midst of the civilian population and used the civilians as shields until they reached Ombong, Alegria.

For sure there are other lumad communities dislocated by the massive bombing, airstrikes and military operations. Many lumad communities are near if not directly situated in the bombed mountain areas.

The mountains connecting Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur contain large deposits of various minerals especially gold. Minimax Gold Exploration is among those with mining interests in the mountains of Santiago, Jabonga and Kitcharao. At present SR Mining Inc., have gold mining operations in these mountains. Applications for exploration permits in the municipalities of Tubay, Santiago and Jabonga and Cabadbaran City have increased. While the survey of the Lopez owned First Gen Hydro Electric Corp. is continuing in Agusan del Norte particularly in Zapanta Valley. Large coal deposits can also be found in Kitcharao and Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte.

The continuing implementation of Oplan Bayanihan greatly affected the lives, livelihoods and existence of the lumad people. This is being implemented to ensure the unhampered entry of mining activities.

The lack of food in their communities because of military operations and the threat of airstrikes and the uncertain living conditions in evacuation centers pushed the affected people to proceed to Butuan City, CARAGA Region’s center of government, to seek support and assistance from the government, and seek sanctuary.

PRESENT SITUATION IN THE BUTUAN CITY EVACUATION CENTER

On March 14, 78 Mamanwa families with about 345 individuals from Kitcharao and Sitio Lusong, Brgy. Puting Bato, Cabadbaran City arrived in Butuan City to seek sanctuary and ask for help from the Agusan del Norte Provincial Government to petition the pullout of military troops from their communities and desist from the airstrikes in the community.  They asked for shelter from the Provincial Government but were refused the use of the Provincial Capitol’s covered gym, in favor of a private contract with an entertainment company who were to set up an exhibit until May.  Local leaders from Kayapan – Amihan, a local lumad organization, were able to ask for assistance from the barangay officials of Brgy. Imadejas for the use of their barangay covered court.  The evacuees are now sheltered at the Barangay Imadejas Covered Court.

The evacuees are in need of food, medicines, clothes, laundry soap, sleeping mats and potable water. They also need slippers and change of clothes, especially the children with infected wounds.

No. of affected communities and family:

BARANGAY

# OF FAMILIES

# OF INDIVIDUALS

KITCHARAO,AGUSAN DEL NORTE
  • ZAPANTA VALLEY

45

125

  • MANHUMAPAY

28

116

CABADBARAN
  • LUSONG, PUTING BATO

25

104

  • PALIDAN

7

35

SURIGAO NORTE
  • PERLDA, ALEGRIA

76

276

TOTAL

181

656

 

Report from: Bread for Emergency Assistance and Development (BREAD)