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We won´t forget!

December 10 – Human Rights Day: the eight indigenous people murdered in Philippines a year ago are in our memories

On December 3rd, 2017, a year and a week ago, Marivic Danyan, a young indigenous woman less than 30 years of age saw how the Philippine Army murdered her father, her two brothers, her husband, an uncle and cousins. It was a massacre. Today, Marivic spoke with Real World Radio, because the peaceful struggle for their lands continues.

It all happened in the Philippine village of Datal Bonglangon, Mindanao island. With the unbelievable excuse that the indigenous people were rebels of the New Peoples Army (NPA), the 27th Battalion of the Philippine Army opened fire against their wood houses and the people living in them. [1]

The real reason behind the murders? What several national and international human rights and environmental organizations are warning is that the intention of Rodrigo Duterte´s administration was to silence the local inhabitants. [2] Why? Because of their resistance as T’boli–Manobo indigenous communities against the occupation by Silvicultural Industries corporation, the “Consunji” conglomerate, in their ancestral domain lands in Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato provinces.

The village´s leader, Datu Victor Danyan, Marivic´s father, was the most renowned murder of that December 3rd, 2017, although there were eight people murdered. Victor was the chairman of TAMASCO, the T’boli–Manobo indigenous organization that was created to claim their rights.

The communities are demanding the cancellation of the “Integrated Forest Management Agreement” (IFMA) that allowed the company to invade their ancestral domain in 1991, and which in 2016 was illegally renewed until 2032. This exhausted the patience of the T’boli–Manobo.

Marivic told activist Norly Grace Mercado, of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center – Friends of the Earth Philippines, who interviewed her for Real World Radio, that her father, Victor, “hoped that he could reclaim our ancestral land from the company to support the livelihood of the means of living of the next generations”.

Until the arrival of the coffee company, the local communities lived in harmony and mutual respect, said Marivic. But the invasion and the coffee plantations in their lands changed everything. “We don’t have any means of livelihoods for we are not allowed to plant and build in our own land”, she said, and stated that they are going through a serious economic situation. “The justice that we want is just to bring back our land to us and to file a case against them in a legal way so that they can banish from the area”, said the indigenous woman.

This December 10th, 70 years after the United Nations General Assembly approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Real World Radio, the web radio of Friends of the Earth International, is paying homage to the defenders of the territories and the rights of the people, especially those threatened, persecuted or murdered for their work in defense of life.

And we add our voices to demand that the lands of the T’boli–Manobo indigenous are returned to them, their legitimate owners, and for there to be justice for the massacre of eight of their community leaders a little over a year ago.