Nine Indigenous Tumandok leaders were massacred in the early morning of December 30th on Panay Island, northern Visayas. Eliseo Gayas Jr. and Roy Giganto, heads of TUMANDUK, as well as Mauro Diaz, Arcelito Katipunan Sr., Mario Aguirre, Jomer Vidal, Dalson Catamin, Reynaldo Katipunan and one more unnamed victim were killed by members of the 12th Infantry Battalion of the AFP and the Philippine National Police.
TUMANDUK is an alliance of 17 different indigenous communities in Capiz and Iloilo Provinces on Panay Island against the militarization of their ancestral lands and development aggression like the Jalaur Mega Dam project.
Soldiers and police entered Tumandok villages at 4am to serve arrest warrants. Witnesses saw Gayas shot after being ordered to leave his home, while Aguirre and Giganto were shot in their sleep to the horror of their families.
Seventeen more Tumandok leaders and elders have been arrested in Capiz province. They have yet to be located, although witnesses saw former TUMANDUK chair Marivic Aguirre abducted via military helicopter.
Giganto, Aguirre, and Katipunan had served as village councilors and village captains. Others among the disappeared were also community leaders, including Marivic Aguirre, a municipal employee.
The resistance of the Tumandok people, including their organizations like TUMANDUK, has resulted in red-tagging (labeled as terrorists) and vilification by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), continuing the Duterte government’s Indigenous-focused counterinsurgency program.
CPSO-Toronto sees the same forces at work in Canada, when armed police invade First Nations communities and arrest leading activists and elders for resisting colonial development and resource exploitation.
We add our voice to the calls by the Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) and Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KATRIBU) for an investigation into this massacre, the return of all detainees, and an end to attacks on Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines and Canada!