Philippines: Lumad village suffers third forced evacuation in 5 months
Indigenous villagers are bearing the brunt of continued clashes between the Philippine military and a leftist rebel group in Mindanao, rights groups say.
Renewed clashes this month have forced civilians in one village in Agusan del Norte province to flee their homes for the third time in five months.
Residents in Agusan del Norte’s Bangayan village fled fighting last week, which saw weapons fired only 100 metres away from some houses, according to Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)—the National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations in the Philippines.
“Residents are unsettled by the military presence and operations in the community,” said spokeswoman Piya Macliing Malayao.
The group says a rapid escalation in controversial mining concessions in the area is causing the military build-up.
“We see an upsurge of military and paramilitary activities in mining-affected areas,” Malayao said. “Human rights violations are observed to spike in areas with mining interests.”
The Philippine military have clashed with the New People’s Army (NPA)—the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines—in the region. Officials say operations in the area are aimed at rooting out “a band of rebels”, not protecting mining operations.
“The entry of mining firms is none of the army’s business,” an army spokesman told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
But rights groups like KAMP say the government of President Benigno Aquino is not doing enough to protect Indigenous civilians.