WATCH | ‘Don’t kill my hopes’ – lumad child

August 16, 2017 - 8:20 AM
Dulangan Manobo boy Mark Shan Sanong and his mother Babelyn hold up art work he made showing the militarization of their communities in Mindanao.

MANILA, Philippines — No child should have to experience what Mark Shane Sanong went and continues to go through.

Early in the morning of July 11 — it was around 3 a.m. according to Mark Shane’s mother Babelyn — gunmen kicked down the door of their home in Midpanga, Barangay Hinilaan, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat province.

The gunmen trained their weapons on Mark Shane’s father, Kama Sanong, a Dulangan datu who is a coffee farmer, pastor of the Dulangan Manobo Evangelical Church and, like many lumad whose ancestral lands are threatened by the encroachment of big business and industry, is an active member of his tribe’s organization, the Kesasabanay Dulangan Manobo or KEDUMA, which advocates their right to self-determination.

When they ordered the family out of their own house, the Sanongs confirmed that the gunmen were soldiers and police who had arrived in their community in four military trucks, a police vehicle and three motorcycles “riding-in-tandem.”

As some of the gunmen began searching their home, the Sanongs recognized one of them as police officer Junjun Mulod.

It was only then that they were shown a search warrant as the IP (indigenous people’s) mandatory representative Vicente Ma arrived and invited the Sanong couple to come back inside to witness the search of their homes. When they did, the soldiers took pictures of the couple and, after they found nothing illegal, took the family to the home of a neighbor, Alek Balakayo.

Finally, around 3:45 a.m., the soldiers announced they had found an air gun, a .38 caliber revolver and a rifle grenade. They then asked the couple to sign a document whose contents they did not bother to explain as the pastor was taken into custody.

Babelyn acknowledged ownership of the air gun, which she said most lumad own and use for hunting. As for the revolver and grenade, she said these were obviously planted.

Her husband remains detained at the police station of Kalamansig.

Mark Shane, 11,  a Grade 6 student at the Center for Lumad Advocacy, Networking and Services Inc., and his mother joined a contingent of lumad who are in Manila to demand an end to the militarization of their communities and to the continuing attacks and occupation of their tribal schools, which have worsened since President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to bomb the learning institutions after his second state of the nation address.