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Church refuge torched in Mindanao

MANILA (UCAN): At least five people, including two children, were hurt after unidentified men torched a Church-run evacuation centre in the southern Philippine city of Davao early on February 24.

“At least three men poured gasoline on the tent before lighting it,” Piya Macliing Malayao, the secretary-general of the tribal group, Katribu, said.

Malayao said some 700 indigenous people, who were displaced by military operations in the hinterlands of Davao del Norte, Bukidnon, and Surigao del Sur, had been staying in the Church compound since the middle of last year.

“We condemn this violence against our tribal people and the attack on the Church,” Nardy Sabino, from the Promotion of Church Peoples Response, said.

Sabino said the incident was not only an attack on people, but an attack on the Church. 

The temporary shelter for the displaced tribal people stands inside the compound of the United Church of Christ in The Philippines.

“We are urging the government to immediately respond to the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice,” Redemptorist Brother Nosi Balgado added.

He said the incident is an attempt to harass the Church, which has been helping the displaced tribal people.

“As if the evacuees have not suffered enough, now even their evacuation camp is being targeted,” Terry Ridon, a congress member from the Kabataan (Youth) Partylist, commented.

Isagani Zarate, a congressional representative from the Nation First Party, said the attack is the result of government inaction in resolving the killings of tribal people that caused the evacuation.

“The arsonists violated the sanctuary provided by the Church to a group already forced to flee from their communities by relentless military operations,” Teachers Party Representative, Antonio Tinio, said.

The Church refugee centre has had a rocky ride as in July last year, congress member Nancy Catamco, the head of the Committee on Indigenous Peoples, attempted to forcibly eject the refugees from the compound. 


Data from the indigenous peoples’ group, Katribu, shows that about 60 tribal people in Mindanao have been killed since 2010 the current president, Noynoy Aquino, came to power. Katribu claims 15 have died this year.

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