THE CITY OF DAVAO – A total of 53 members of the Ata Manobo tribe, including minors, returned to their ancestral land in Talaingod, Davao del Norte after several years of exploitation living within the Haran compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).
In a statement released on Friday, the Regional Police Office in Region 11 (PRO-11) said the indigenous peoples (IPs), all residents of Sitio Dulian, were brought home by bus, van and car. Talaingod Municipality dump truck on Wednesday.
Members of PRO-11’s Nasilaban Revitalized-Pulis Sa Barangay (R-PSB) and Talaingod Municipal Police Station escorted returning IPs, led by Lorena Mandacawan, and provided food packages.
Mandacawan remained at UCCP-Haran for over three years.
The PAs were said to have been left at the UCCP-Haran by their tribal leader, Datu Doloman, which would have made their lives more difficult.
Before returning home, IPs will stay at the Barangay Sto Municipal Tribal Hall. NiÃ±o.
Brig. General Filmore Escobal, director of PRO-11, is optimistic that the return will finally end the deception and exploitation of IPs who are used as leverage to secure funds from local and foreign donors.
He added that government efforts through different agencies and the RPSB of PRO 11 have been an important factor in encouraging people, especially IP communities, to believe that the government will protect them.
â€œPASAKA-SMR (Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao) is spreading propaganda that the voluntary departure of IPs from Haran was to continue their struggle for their well-being. The truth is, the difficulties faced by IPs inside Haran are the real reason for this. They left Haran because they thought the government really cared about their well-being, â€Escobal added.
PASAKA-SMR recruited the PAs and illegally detained them. Some were rescued while others were allowed to leave.
Complaints have been filed against Haran and PASAKA-SMR officials for forcing IPs into armed activities, forced labor, involuntary servitude and other exploitative purposes. (ANP)