Murder of Indigenous peoples in Philippines as blatant human rights abuses continue
It is with great sadness and anger that we received the news of the murders of Datu Victor Danyan as well as seven members of his family and community by the Philippine armed forces on 3 December 2017, in their ancestral territory in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
Datu Victor and the TAMASCO communities are long time partners of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center/Friends of the Earth Philippines in their struggle against human rights violations by Consunji owned companies encroaching on ancestral territory for coffee plantations and coal operations. We send our heartfelt sympathies to their families, friends and all those who support the struggles of the T’boli–Manubo Sdaf Claimants Organization (TAMASCO) communities.
The killing of Datu Victor was perpetrated a year after the Consunji company was granted an extension to their 25-year coffee plantation permit that expired in 2016, An extension granted through legal manipulation, without free prior and informed consent from T’boli-Manobo communities. No one gains from the death of Datu Victor and the T’boli-Manobos other than Consunji’s corporate interests.
These murders came only a month after the commemoration of the Philippine congress’ enactment of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) 20 years ago. Their deaths serve as an indictment of the Philippine legal system, which remains uncaring, irresponsive and ineffectual in upholding the rights of indigenous peoples over corporate interests.
The killing of Datu Victor was perpetrated a week after the Duterte government suspended peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines and pronounced a crackdown on suspected communist rebels. The attempt by the Philippine military to justify the killings by labelling Datu Victor a communist rebel simply does not hold; Datu Victor fought tirelessly from 1991 when the coffee plantation was first granted a license, for legal and peaceful means in seeking redress for these corporate landgrabs despite continuous persecution by company guards and government military forces.
The killing of Datu Victor was perpetrated exactly one week before International Human Rights Day.
We condemn the continued government and corporate security forces’ attacks on defenders of communities and territories fighting against corporate plunder and environmental destruction. We call on the Duterte government to cancel the coffee plantation and coal operation permits inside the TAMASCO ancestral domain. We call on the Duterte government to hold to account the perpetrators of attacks and violations against the T’Boli-Manobos including those responsible for the killings of Datu Victor, his two sons, his son in law, and four other members of his community on 3 December 2017.
Karin Nansin, Friends of the Earth International Chairperson
Photo © Keith Bacongo