The following is a chronology of recent events at Nakamta
September 6, 2001, Bukidnon, Mindanao
Samuel Bento, chairman of the Tribal Organization of San Jose (TOSJ), a member organization of NAKAMATA, was murdered as he traveled back from town. He had been working since 1999 on an ancestral land claim to recover an area of 1,100 hectares that had been converted into a cattle ranch. In response to his organizing activities, a price of 20,000 pesos had been placed on his head. But Samuel persisted in his organizing. Samuel's relatives strongly suspect that his stabbing is related to the threat earlier issued against him, and the community's recent announcement of their intention to file for title to their ancestral domain. They say they have witnesses to support their claim. The police have filed a case of homicide against the suspect.
September 27, 2001
Gunmen fired upon the home of Nakamata leader, Datu Marcial Tahuyan, injuring two family members. Datu Tahuyan is the chairperson of the San Luis Bukidnon Native Farmers Association, a member organization of NAKAMATA. The organization's total land claim is approximately 700 hectares. At 3:30pm that afternoon, three men, wearing masks and armed with 12-gauge shotguns and a carbine rifle, fired upon the datu's house from close range. Two people were injured. The police made no serious attempt to investigate the incident, despite acknowledging that they knew threats had been made to kill Datu Tahuyan. After the attack members of the organization relayed the information to the police that the assailants were "nearby waiting for another opportunity to stage another assault against us, and that they were armed with M14, Garand, Carbine and shotgun rifles", and indicated where they believed they were hiding. One officer eventually sent to the scene took still photos. When Datu Tahuyan requested print copies, he was told to order and pay for the photos at the processing studio. No protection was offered to coalition members.
October 13, 2001
Two members of the Manobo tribe were ambushed and killed. Ananias Tahuyan was shot in the arms and thigh, and died shortly afterwards. Rodolfo Dazing died on the spot from a bullet wound to his forehead. Two other companions, including a 10-year old boy, managed to run to safety immediately after the first gunbursts. WITNESS partner Joey Lozano was nearby, and on arriving at the scene found the young boy cowering amidst the sugarcane. Ananias Tahuyan was a board member of the San Luis Bukidnon Native Farmers Association (SLNBFA), and he was on his way to join his group to complete a GPS (Global Positioning System) survey of their land claims. The survey would have determined the boundaries of the organization's claims. The area is now planted with sugarcane by "high ranking officials of the town who are opposing the claim," members said. Last week, one of the officials allegedly threatened that tribe members would be shot if they pursued the survey. Police did not arrive at the scene of the murders until almost three hours after they took place. This was despite the fact that the police station is just 8 kilometers from the murder site. Upon arrival, the local Police Inspector stayed on the highway, and did not even go to look at the crime scene.
October 18, 2001
Unidentified armed men assaulted the community of the two men who were killed in the October 13 ambushes. This time, the suspects fired several rounds of M-79 grenade launchers in broad daylight before they razed 14 homes to the ground. No one was reported hurt, as the Manobo tribe members had already evacuated along the national highway. But now the members of the tribe face a time of extreme poverty and desperation. The attack came even after the Department of National Defense had issued a memorandum to the armed forces' chief of staff two days earlier. The order, a copy of which NAKAMATA has, directed the southern command in Cagayan de Oro City "to take appropriate action to ensure the safety of the Manobo community and the neutralization of the alleged armed group terrorizing them." Despite receiving numerous requests, as well as being made aware of credible threats to the lives of NAKAMATA's members, the police did not take action to protect the lives of NAKAMATA members, nor did they conduct a thorough investigation of this or other incidents.
November 6, 2001
Footage shot by NAKAMATA and Joey Lozano using WITNESS cameras was gathered for evidence and was broadcast on a nationwide investigative reporting show, 'The Probe Team'. WITNESS contacts on the ground reported that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had begun investigating attacks on leaders of NAKAMATA. However, WITNESS and NAKAMATA are still awaiting concrete results from the NBI investigation. Petitions and letters signed by WITNESS supporters were sent to key government officials reiterating our concern for the safety of NAKAMATA.
November 19, 2001
Joey Lozano interviewed on "Democracy Now" Radio Program in U.S.
Joey Lozano and NAKAMATA collaborated on editing WITNESS Rights Alert video 'Rule of the Gun in Sugarland'. In addition to being posted on the WITNESS website, the Rights Alert will also be distributed nationally and internationally, and is available for low cost purchase, and for public screenings.
Joey Lozano and NAKAMATA encourage NBI to pursue the arrest of three suspects involved in the murders of Tahuyan and Dazig. Despite a police raid of federal and local agents, the suspects remain at large.
Joey Lozano and NAKAMATA prepare to pressure the Philippine Government and the National Bureau of Investigation to successfully arrest the suspects and bring them to justice in a court of law.
Joey and Nakamata continue the documentation required to file ancestral land claims in the area.
Seeing is Believing is released world-wide.
For more information on Joey, Nakamata and Witness, please see the Witness Rights Alert.
To join the international support and call for the arrest of the suspects, please go to Act Now.