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September 24, 2015

Everyone Wants Peace

Last Monday, I had the opportunity to talk to three Lumad leaders from Mindanano on our morning show KASANGGA MO ANG LANGIT (6-7am) on DWIZ882 KHz.

Through Arthur Tariman, the convenor of the Victims of Injustice, Criminality and Terrorism in Mindanao, I was able to talk to Datu Malapandaw Nestor Apas, Datu Marcial Belandres or Datu Sibugan and Datu Rico Maca Lumad tribe of Liangga, Surigao del Sur.


The leaders wanted to explain the side of the Lumads as they have already been topic of much conversation regarding the killings in their tribe. Datu Nestor Apas is the chief of the Rebellion Manobo and a customary lawyer (a law graduate who was unable to take the bar). Datu Marcial Belandres or Datu Sibugan came from  Barobo, Surigao del Sur. He leads the Belandres Clan of the Manobos. Datu Rico Maca is the municipal tribal chieftain of San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.


Datu Belandres explained the land belongs to the Lumads. The CPP-NPA, however, were able to breach the land for some time. The datu himself was a former NPA member but has since given his allegiance to the government.


Datu Apas explained that their tribes were a bit far away from where the Lumad leaders were killed.

“We weren’t able to have a dialogue with them because they were far away. The reason we came here is because we wanted to restore the relations between their clan and the other tribes to gain peace and order in Mindanao,” he said.


REY:           Datu Apas, kayo po ba’y malapit sa tatlong nasawi na mga leaders ng Lumad Tribes?

DATU APAS:         Medyo may distansya, Sir. Pero kami lahat doon sa Mindanao, ang lahat ng tribo doon ay nagkausap lalo na mga leader at meron kaming ugnayan sa bawat tribo namin doon sa Mindanao.

REY:     Sa tatlong mga leaders, nagkaroon ba ho kayo ng pagkakataong makipagdialogue sa kanila’t nakaharap na ninyo ng personal sina Samarca, Campos at Bello Sinzo?

DATU APAS:       Hindi pa po, Sir, kasi medyo sila ang may distansya. Unang dahlian, Sir, na pumunta kami dito upang kausapin namin sila nang mapayapa. Gusto namin masauli yung relation ng kanilang clan at saka mga ibang tribo upang  maalagaan natin yung peace and order doon sa Mindanao.


It was first reported that Bagahat/Bagani paramilitary forces killed Emerito Samarca, executive director  of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), Dionel Campos, chairperson of the Manobo group Malahutayong Pakigbigsog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu) and Bello Sinzo, cousin of Campos.



The Lumad leaders appealed to me to help facilitate talks between the private groups and government involved in this issue.

“I am calling on all parties to please allow us to talk amongst ourselves first. We want to try to settle this peacefully amongst ourselves. We want to retain our unit as tribes. We do not want to be torn by other forces be it the government or the leftists.


The Tiboli and Taduray tribes are also considered part of the Lumad Tribe of Mindanao.

“Our tribe in Mindanao is the biggest in the Philippines. We are divided into three groups: the Moros consisting of 17 tribes; the Manobos with 24 tribes, the Tubanen and other tribes consist the rest of the total of 43 tribes,” said Datu Apas.

“We may be different tribes but we have one culture and tradition. We inherited this from our ancestors. So when outside groups infiltrated our tribes, they fooled and it resulted to this. Each tribe has its own ancestral land, ancestral home, and this is how we recognize the Philippine republic,” he added.


Arthur Tariman echoed the call of the datus.

“We believe that with you as mediator, we can get them all to talk face-to-face. They have their own system so we need someone neutral to initiate the talks to end this issue,” he said.

“Everyone wants peace – and they will fight the most terrible war to get it.”   – Miles Kington

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