Picture an 11-year old boy riding a motorbike behind his father on his way to school in the morning. On the way, they are ambushed from behind. The father is wounded but the son was killed instantly by a bullet. This is what happened to young Jordan Manda and his father Timuay Lorencio Manda in the morning of September 4 in Bayog town, Zamboanga peninsula, Mindanao. Jordan is but one of the hundreds of thousands of Filipino school children trekking to distant schools each day in rural Philippines in his case a five-kilometer distance from his home. But Jordan nurtured the dream of being like his father, a timuay (leader) of his own Subanen people or so his parents Timuay Lorencio and Delma were gearing him to be. That fatal shot ended all dreams for Jordan, his parents and the community they belonged.
In his message to an organization later, the older Manda said: “In my effort to assert our rights and to protect our people and ancestral domain, my beloved son was sacrificed. It is very painful and I thirst for justice. I vow to continue my struggle in order not to make my son’s death in vain. I need your support in this most trying time of my life as a father and a leader.”
Hear then the cry of a grieving father and leader. It is the wounded cry of the Barangay Captain of Barangay Conacon, Bayog. It is the cry of a leader whose cousin was killed in 2002 as both questioned the entry of logging and mining firms in their ancestral domain without their free, prior and informed consent. Hear the man in defense of his community which has eight mining permit applications, three approved mineral production sharing agreements, one approved exploration permit and numerous small-scale mining operations. Hear the man who dares unite his people against the onslaught of systematic destruction of life, property and patrimony in the name of capital and profit.
The death of young Jordan and the frustrated murder attempt on his father may never reach the limelight. Yet, to people aware of the struggle of indigenous people to protect not only themselves but also us from self-destruction in the long term, this latest assault on defenders of our patrimony increases the resolve to persevere.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines has heard Timuay Manda’s cry. The death of his son and the attempt in his life are an abomination. Pray we must that this impunity come to an end and the ways of God’s justice sweep through this land. We mourn almost unconsolably over the killing of the child Jordan and grieve with his family.
But we cannot prevent the stones from crying out! May the National Commission on Indigenous People take lead in seeking justice for Jordan and his father. May the President of this Republic take to heart the plight of the “little ones”! May our partners here and across the seas harken to the cry of Timuay Manda and all indigenous peoples and help us demand accountability for this continuing impunity.
“Thou, O Lord art my hope, my trust… I have been as a portent to many; but thou art my strong refuge.” (Psalm 71:5, 7). Move me to proclaim that whoever “looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts shall be blessed…” (James 1:25)
THE MOST REVEREND EPHRAIM S. FAJUTAGANA REV. REX RB REYES, JR.
Obispo Maximo 12, Iglesia Filipina Independiente General Secretary and Chairperson of NCCP
September 5, 2012
URGENT REPORT (Rockrock Antequisa, a member of the MPI Board of Trustees)
Timuay Locenio Manda of Bayog Wounded in Ambush, His 11 Year Old Son Died On-the-Spot
Timuay Locenio M. Manda, a Subanen leader and head claimant of the Bayog Ancestral Domain, was ambushed by unknown assailants while on his way to send his eldest son to school early this morning. Timuay Manda’s 11 year old son, Jordan Manda, suffered a fatal wound on the back instantly killing him. Timuay Manda suffered minor wounds and is now safe.
The ambush happened around 7:20 A.M. on the road between Barangays Conacon and Bubuan of the Municipality of Bayog. Timuay Manda is the Barangay Chairperson of Barangay Conacon while his eldest son is studying at the Bubuan Elementary School, about 5 kilometers away from his residence in Conacon. The father and son were riding on their motorbike when they were fired by unidentified assailants.
Timuay Manda has been leading his tribe in claiming and protecting their ancestral domain in the last 10 years after his cousin Timuay Giovanni Umbang was assassinated in 2002. Both Timuay Giovanni and Timuay Manda questioned the entry of logging and mining in their ancestral domain without their Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as required under national and international laws. Timuay Manda has been receiving threats of his life in the last three years.
At present, the ancestral domain of the Subanen’s in Bayog has 8 mining permit applications, three approved Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA), one approved Exploration Permit and numerous illegal small-scale mining operations.
Early in August, Timuay Manda led a group of Timuays from Bayog and neighboring ancestral domains in calling for a moratorium of all forms of mining in their ancestral domains until they could have their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) and Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) of their domains. Such effort was supported by the local office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
Timuay Manda is also leading an effort to strengthen and unify the efforts of the Subanens in the Central Zamboanga Peninsula to claim and protect their remaining contiguous ancestral domain. He is actively meeting other Timuays who are mostly his relatives from Sindangan, Bacungan, Siayan, Godod of Zamboanga del Norte and from Lakewood and Kumalarang in Zamboanga del Sur.
Timuay Manda, along with Catholic Bishops and concerned groups, is one of the petitioners for the Writ of Kalikasan in protection of the Pinukis Range Forest, among the last untouched forest region in the Zamboanga Peninsula which is unfortunately included in the mining claims of several companies. Mt. Pinukis is considered by the Subanen people of Zamboanga Peninsula as among their Sacred Mountains. The Pinukis Range Forest serve as watershed of three major rice-growing regions in the Peninsula that produces about 30 percent of the rice in the region.
Jordan Manda is Timuay Manda’s eldest son whom he trained as a future Timuay (Chieftain) of his community. Jordan is a Grade VI student who belongs to the top-5 of his class in Bubuan Elementary School. Being groomed as a future Timuay, Jordan is often the youngest participant attending weekend meetings of the community leaders intently listening to discussions and asking questions after the meeting. He sometimes attend to educational sessions initiated by NGO’s and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). He is very interested in the stories of their tribe and the history of his people. No wonder that he is the favorite of his 70 year old grandmother who is among the most knowledgeable elder of their tribe’s music, arts, history and genealogy.
Timuay Manda’s wife, Delma, is so devastated of the incident. Jordan is her assistant in tending their rice farm and animals while Timuay Manda is busy attending his leadership functions. Delma who also hails from a family of Timuays, has been aware of the risks and sacrifices of being a leader in their community but she said she never expect this to happen to their young son.
In a text message, Timuay Manda said: “In my effort to assert our rights and to protect our people and ancestral domain, my beloved son was sacrificed. It is very painful and I thirst for justice. I vow to continue my struggle in order not to make my son’s death in vain. I need your support in this most trying time of my life as a father and a leader.”
Director, Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc.
Apt. 301 Casa Graciana Inn, 6 Juna Avenue
Matina, 8000 Davao City, Philippines
Tel/Fax: (63-82) 295-3776