Editorial | Not their war

THE KILLING of Datu Banadjao Mampaundag and son Jhonard in Talaingod town on Feb. 4 brought to a head the chronic problem of Lumad killings in the island.

A tribal leader told the media that the Council of Elders in Talaingod will declare today a “pangayaw” against 30 of their members who have links to the New People’s Army. A “pangayaw” has since become a byword for revenge killing although some tribal leaders say it is only done to defend the community if all peaceful means to resolve a conflict have failed.

Anthropologist Dr. Jowel Canuday explained that this form of warfare is drawn out of the indigenous tradition of kindred or extended family revenge killings as a justification for a violent campaign.

Datu Lumansad Sibugan of the Ata-Manuvu tribe said that the tribal chieftains agreed to the pangayaw to give justice to the deaths of Banadjao and Jhonard since the slain Datu was also a presiding officer of the Talaingod Council of Elders.

For the Independent Indigenous People’s Voice, a Lumad group, indigenous people’s communities are caught in the war between the New People’s Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as well as private armed groups by big corporations wanting to drive them away from their ancestral domain.

It may not be their war but the conflict is played out in their backyard and loyalties are often sacrificed in the name of survival. In situations like these, the option for families is to flee their homes and leave their means of livelihood to live a miserable existence in evacuation centers. They are certainly caught between a rock and a hard place.

The Davao del Norte police said it has already identified suspects in the killings and documents are ready to be served to the alleged perpetrators. But still, the thirst for revenge has to be quenched and civil society can do nothing but watch on the sidelines.

Posted in Opinion