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Philippines

Mindanao tribal people flee homes after spate of killings

More than 100 Filipino families living in fear from paramilitary groups hunting communist rebels

Ben Serrano, Butuan City

Ben Serrano, Butuan City

Published: May 31, 2016 09:56 AM GMT

Updated: May 31, 2016 09:57 AM GMT

Mindanao tribal people flee homes after spate of killings

Tribal people from the southern region of Mindanao march in Manila in this November 2015 photo to call on the government to stop attacks on indigenous communities. (ucanews.com photo by Mark Saludes)

More than 100 tribal families from four villages in the southern Philippine province of Agusan del Sur have fled their homes following a series of killings allegedly perpetrated by a paramilitary group.

Datu Tito Talocan, a chieftain of the Manobo tribe in the area, said at least five people have been killed in recent weeks on suspicion of being communist rebel sympathizers.

"I already reported the incidents to police but nobody has acted on our report," said Talocan whose brother-in-law was one of the victims of the killings.

Higala sa Lumad, an interfaith network helping tribal people in Mindanao, said gunmen have been terrorizing villagers who have been forced to come down from the mountains to seek help.

Village leader Rosendo Coguit said the refugees are staying with friends and relatives.

"We need food, medicines, and other basic necessities for the evacuees," Coguit said.

Allan Manggalimba, leader of another village, said other areas have also reported tribal people fleeing.

"We fear the number of displaced people will increase because of the violence," said Manggalimba.

In September last year, thousands of indigenous people fled their homes after the killing of two tribal leaders and a school director in the town of Lianga in nearby Surigao del Sur province.

The displaced families continue to seek shelter in the city of Butuan for fear of retribution from the gunmen.

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Data from indigenous peoples group Katribu shows that since 2010, when President Benigno Aquino came to power, almost 70 tribal people have been victims of extrajudicial killings.

Of the 68 tribal people killed, 53 came from Mindanao.

The group also recorded nine incidents of bombing of communities and farmlands, and 54 cases of forced evacuations in Mindanao, displacing some 20,000 people.

 

 

 

 

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