Zones of War and Peace Eyed in Troubled Paquibato

Mar. 10, 2006

Councilor Dureza wants to look deeper into reports that non-Lumads are being driven out of Paquibato so Lumads can sell their CADCs to business interests

By Cheryll Fiel

DAVAO CITY (March 7, 2006) — A peace zone where civilians can go about their ways and a war zone where parties to the conflict in the area can wage their battle.

These are the things that Councilor Jimmy Dureza, chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Peace and Public Safety, wanted to put in place after he was deeply bothered by the escalating trouble in Paquibato District, a flashpoint for the military and the communist New Peoples Army.

Dureza told that he was still finalizing details of the proposals, which he said was urgent considering that Paquibato residents have left their homes and evacuated, particularly in barangays Mapula, Lumiad and Paalom, because of the incessant conflict in the hinterland district.

But Colonel Eduardo del Rosario, head of the militarys Task Force Davao, denied in an interview with GMA-7, that there fear reigned in Paquibato, saying that this scenario was created by the NPA as part of the Communists propaganda. He also accused the NPA of being behind the unrest in the district.

Dureza said that residents had complained of armed men going around their houses, harassing them. Karapatan, the human-rights group that recently conducted a fact-finding mission in Paquibato, had said that the Alamara, an anti-communist paramilitary group of Lumads allegedly formed and controlled by the armed forces, was behind the harassment of civilians in Paquibato. The group reported last week that hundreds of Paquibato residents had left their homes following a series of killings allegedly perpetrated by the Alamara.

Dureza there is a need for the government to look deeper into the problem in Paquibato, one of which, according to him, is the issue on ancestral domain claims. “It’s one of the many irritants,” Dureza said.

There have been reports that Lumad holders of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claims (CADC) are driving out the non-Lumad residents in the area, allegedly because the Lumads want to sell the CADCs to groups or individuals who have business interests in the area. According to reports, mining companies and banana plantation firms are eyeing Paquibato for their operations. Karapatan suspects that these interests are using the military, which in turn allegedly uses the military, to drive people out of Paquibato.

Early this week, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte urged the Lumads in Paquibato not to sell their CADCs, saying doing so was illegal.

CADCs are awarded by the government to indigenous peoples or, as they are called in Mindanao, Lumads, as part of the governments recognition of the ancestral domain rights of Lumads.

Dureza said the persecution of non-Lumad residents in Paquibato should be looked into. He said non-Lumads should have the same right as the Lumads since they have also been in the area for a long time now and have already established their lives there.

He fears that the NPA might take advantage of the sentiments of the non-Lumads in the area, which would potentially escalate the conflict.

Dureza has proposed a committee hearing on March 20, where councilors would request the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to make their own fact-finding and investigation into the incidents in Paquibato.

Dureza said that once he is able to establish that the ones harassing residents are Lumads armed by the Philippine Army, he would ask the military to disband these groups. He said he was also thinking of a localized peace talks. (Cheryll D. Fiel/

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