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D. M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI) apparently has some supporters who believe that the construction company had all the legal right to cultivate coffee in Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, where eight T’boli and Dulangan Manobo farmers were killed on December 3, 2017.

DMCI apparently “cut” a deal with the indigenous people of Lake Sebu or “inherited” a plantation from the Magsaysay family, which was into logging for several decades.

One businessman even suggested that a previous item in this corner asking that the DMCI be defanged was an unkind cut, perhaps not knowing that coffee had been cultivated by the T’boli in the Klubi area nearby and that the people there had been growing corn and cultivating traditional rice varieties for centuries.

They need not be lectured by DMCI to grow corn since Barangay Ned is practically the nation’s biggest corn-producing barangay.

The T’boli and Dulangan Manobo men were massacred since they opposed the entry of DMCI and even reclaimed part of the “leased” property in an area where both men and women work the farm and where women maintain ownership of their farms even when they get married.

Witnesses said the the massacre was perpetrated by elements of the 27th and the 33rd Infantry Battalions (IBs) of the Philippine Army (PA.)

All of the victims were accused of being as NPA members or in the process of becoming NPA members (whatever that means), the military alleged, even when the fatalities were all civilians whose mistake was to reclaim part of their ancestral domain.

DMCI had been tagged as well for the disappearance of eight more IP farmers in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat 10 days after the Lake Sebu massacre, this time in an area where the company was said to be engaged in logging and mining and enjoyed the protection of the Philippine Marines.

Those snatched were identified as Kuya, Anto, Jonard, Dodo and Jitre, all surnamed Gantangan; Dinky Gumpay; Palut Saglang, and; Kasio Ciano.

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All of them are members of Kesasabanay Dulangan Manobo (Keduma), a local Lumad organization opposing the encroachment and land grab of their ancestral domain by DMCI.

DMCI was also tagged as responsible for the disappearance of another IP leader several years ago, as well as the destruction of farms and the uprooting of crops other communities.

Under the Constitution, landownership for corporations and individuals is limited to only 1,024 hectares, with agricultural lands subject to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and its successor laws that restricts individual landownership to five hectares.

Karapatan Socsksargen said DMCI is not only engaged in cultivating coffee in the land-grabbed areas but is likewise into logging and quarrying for coal, particularly in T’boli areas in Lake Sebu, where manganese deposit is said to be substantial.

DMCI operates in the Daguma Mountain Range, which straddles Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and South Cotabato, it added.

“This latest massacre is a vivid picture of the indignity of martial law. This is a sample of how such policies can gravely affect indigenous communities fighting and asserting their right to self-determination. Instead of addressing these communities’ concerns, the Duterte government’s response is brutal repression,” said Karapatan deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor.