(Trigger warning: Video embedded in this story shows violence that may be triggering for some.)
(UPDATE) Gunshots on Tuesday disrupted a live video of a consultation between Ka Leody de Guzman and a displaced indigenous tribe, hurting five people, the presidential candidate's campaign team said.
In a Facebook live streamed by Senatorial aspirant David D'Angelo, members of Partido Lakas Masa and of the Manobo-Pulangiyon Tribe were seen hunkering down for safety to the sound of gunshots in a field in Brgy. Butong, Quezon, Bukidnon Province.
According to PLM, among those injured were Nanie Abela, an organizer of farmers and farmworkers in Mindanao, who de Guzman said was 1 foot away beside him when shots were fired at them.
"Alam nating mayayaman at makapangyarihan ang ating binabangga sa labang ito. Ngunit ibang klase pa rin kapag talagang direkta tayong dinahas. Walang halaga sa kanila ang buhay nating mga maliliit," De Guzman said on Twitter shortly after the incident.
Their party's team on the ground was split between tending to the wounded in the hospital and keeping the rest of the tribe safe.
In the comments section of his Facebook live video, D'Angelo had claimed that the assailants were "goons" of the plantation.
De Guzman's party was in the province to be with the Manobo-Pulangiyon tribe as they set out to take back a portion of their 1,000-hectare ancestral land from which they were ejected from in 2017 due to a Forest Land Graze Management Agreement (FLGMA) secured by Kiantig Development Corporation (KDC), whose president and co-owner, Pablo Lorenzo III, is the incumbent mayor of Quezon, Bukidnon.
Even as the FLGMA was not renewed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2018, the company did not vacate the premises, leaving close to a thousand tribal families still displaced at present.
"Kailangan po nating maunawan na itong ancestral domain, ni minsan, noon pa man ay ito ay hindi naging pagmamay-ari ng estado. Ito ay nauna pa sa estado. Walang karapatang magbigay ng permit ang hindi naman kanya," senatorial candidate Roy Cabonegro told media in an afternoon Zoom call.
De Guzman then noted that the tribe only asked to occupy 4 hectares of their ancestral domain for the day's assembly, where they came bearing documents as proof of their rights, and not one of them was armed.
"Pero yung landgrabber ay talagang ang tingin sa mga katutubo ay baboy na pwedeng barilin lang, na walang karapatang pantao..," the presidential candidate said.
"'Yan ba ay tamang pagtrato sa mga taong walang ka armas armas?," Cabonegros said, recalling how when shots were being fired, officers from the local military and police just passed by and watched.
De Guzman said his camp said would support the Manobo-Pulangiyon should they wish to pursue legal action that they said would "probably" be addressed to Mayor Lorenzo.
They also urged other local officials and government authorities, such as the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, to also do their part in upholding the rights of IPs.