MANILA, Philippines-Leading environmental group GREEN Mindanao Association or Geographic Rediscovery of Endangered Environment and Nature in Mindanao today demanded the government to take serious steps in ensuring the liberty and lives of indigenous people after another tribal leader was shot to death at around 2 a.m. Thursday while he was heading home from a vigil.
Police identified the victim a Manobo chieftain Datu Manuel Quintapa “Kajug-jug” Gardigo, 63, chairperson of Kalasag indigenous people’s organization covering the municipalities of Lanuza, Carmen, Tago and Tandag in Surigao del Sur with nine tribal communities.
Quoting one of the chieftain’s daughters, Aida, Green Mindanao Association campaigner and media coordinator Nokie Calunsag disclosed the family wanted only one thing from the authorities on the death of their father.
“We want justice for the killing of my father, we love our father so much as we know his good performance to our fellow indigenous people. We cannot imagine what happened to our father, the people behind this have no mercy of killing my father…We believed that the person who did this was a hired killer…,” said Aida.
Police report said Datu Kajug-jug was repeatedly shot with caliber 45 pistol. Recovered from the crime scene were 5 empty shells and 1 slug of caliber 45 and the victim’s motorcycle.
Calunsag urged the authorities to “scrutinize the issues” behind Kajug-jug’s death since this is not the first time killings of indigenous people in the province happened.
“Stop illegal logging in the municipality of Lanuza. We call on government to prioritize human rights first before profit from logging, we call for justice for another victim of human rights violations and for protection of the indigenous people in the affected communities,” Calunsag said.
Calunsag also disclosed some circumstances that might help in the investigation.
He said that prior to his death, Kajug-jug and his group were able to stop illegal logging operation in their ancestral domain on April this year.
Also Datu Kajug-jug was keen on the implementation of their indigenous knowledge system and practices that they strongly pushed to all illegal individuals who are planning to encroach on their territories without free prior informed consent
Calunsag added that last Monday, Datu Kajug-jug altogether with other indigenous group went to Tandag to process some documents for the project of National Greening Program and to sign a cheque for encashment scheduled on Thursday.
It can be recalled that on January this year anti-mining tribal leader identified as Kitari Capion of B’laan tribe in Davao was attacked and killed in his house.
Human rights group Karapatan condemned the unabated killings of tribal chieftains and demanded swift investigation for the death of all lumad leaders “ who have been killed to pave way for big businesses.”