Text Threats Hound Lumad Leaders in Haran

TARGET Benito Bay-ao (speaking with the microphone) is a lumad leader from Talaingod, Davao del Norte, who had received a text message threatening his life and of other lumad evacuees in UCCP Haran. Bay-ao is very vocal against the militarization of lumad areas, and was among one of those hurt in the July 23 forced entry of police and intelligence forces in the UCCP Haran, where he and 700 others have taken sanctuary. (Photo by Paulo Cabataña Rizal of HIMATI, caption by Lian Manalo, Karapatan-SMR)
TARGET Benito Bay-ao (speaking with the microphone) is a lumad leader from Talaingod, Davao del Norte, who had received a text message threatening his life and of other lumad evacuees in UCCP Haran. Bay-ao is very vocal against the militarization of lumad areas, and was among one of those hurt in the July 23 forced entry of police and intelligence forces in the UCCP Haran, where he and 700 others have taken sanctuary. (Photo by Paulo Cabataña Rizal of HIMATI, caption by Lian Manalo, Karapatan-SMR)

AUGUST 6, 2015
PRESS RELEASE
KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION
CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO
0932-198-6728

DAVAO CITY- Leaders of lumad evacuees sheltered in UCCP Haran decried “death threats” from unknown individuals since the botched rescue of police elements and government agencies last July 23.

The threats, sent through text messages, accuse the evacuees of being “supporters of the NPA”, and urging them to “stop being used as pawns” by the said group.

Some messages even challenge the evacuees to a one-on-one fight with the anonymous people sending the messages.

Benito Bay-ao, of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon (Unity in Defense of the Ancestral Land), is the latest victim of this “text threats”.

“I received a text two days ago. It told me that the Alamara knew that in reality, we were supporters of the NPA.”

“It further said that if ‘they’ enter here (UCCP Haran), we won’t just be beaten up. We would be killed,” Bay-ao said.

Palo (not his real name), a youth leader from Kapalong, said that he had received text threats only two days after the incident in July 23.

Palo too, was told that they would be killed.

Palo became prominent after the failed rescue, as he was photographed while in the frontlines of those who formed a human barricade to deter the entry of the police.

But the lumad leaders remain undaunted in their stand.

“We are not afraid. Why would we be afraid? We have done nothing wrong,” Bay-ao said.

“They can kill us all they want, but what will they gain? Anyway, it would be better for us to die than to cower in fear, or to join the Alamara,” Bay-ao said.

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