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IPMR asks NPAs to stop influencing tribal council

The Indigenous Peoples’ Mandatory Representative (IPMR) and his fellow Manobo tribal chieftains called on the New People’s Army to stop causing divisiveness among the tribes in in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

“Our customary laws and traditions were disrespected as the NPAs forcefully supplant legitimate tribal leaders with communist-influenced IP leaders in the far-flung sitios so they can control and advance their armed and political struggle,” Hawudon Jumar S. Bucales, Lianga IPMR, said.

1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, the Civil-Military Operations (CMO) officer of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, said the Lianga Tribal Council of Elders issued Resolution No.1 series of 2019 dated October 29 condemning the NPA for killing IP members. The resolution was signed by Lianga Municipal Chieftain, Datu Constancio B. Duhac, and adopted by the Lianga local government unit under Mayor Novelita M. Sarmen.

Punsalan said the tribal council leaders called on the Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa sumusunod (Mapasu) to honor and respect the legitimate IP leadership.

“You (Mapasu) must not dictate on the tribal council. You must adhere to our legitimate IP leadership. You are not supreme over the tribal council of elders and you must abide by our traditional governance system,” Datu Duhac said. “You talk about fighting for self-determination and self-governance but your group is the first to violate our customary laws by defying the tribal council elders.”

Accordingly, Mapasu has lobbied the support of Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Eufemia Campos Cullamat, the sister of Pablito Sinzo Campos (alias Batik), to impose on the tribal council in Agusan and Surigao provinces. Campos was captured by the joint AFP and PNP operation in February 2018.

The tribal council of elders said Cullamat has no power over the council. Instead, they ask the legislator to craft laws that will benefit the IP leaders.

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