CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has sent a team to Aurora to investigate the alleged burning of houses owned by members of the Agta tribe in Dinalungan town.
The investigation came after the killing of an Agta chieftain on May 17 over his defense of his tribe’s ancestral domain.
Lawyer Jasmin Regino, CHR director in Central Luzon, said the team left on Monday after holding a case conference last week with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
Team members would validate reports of complainants who are members of the Agta tribe. The team is expected to return on Sunday, said Regino.
Salung Sunggod, NCIP regional director, said his team went to Aurora on Tuesday to conduct a separate investigation.
Agta leaders reported the burning of 10 houses two days day after their chieftain, Armando Maximino, was denied burial in an ancestral plot within a 49-hectare reservation being claimed by the Guerrero family in Barangay Nipoo. At least 33 hectares in the reservation had been fenced by the family.
Regino said the tribe also filed a petition asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cancel the land title issued by a DENR official in Aurora to the Guerreros.
The DENR began its investigation of the land dispute in early May and is scheduled to announce its findings this month.
Displaced, the 25 families from five clans under Maximino’s watch took spots near the coast in front of the Pacific Ocean, making makeshift dwellings there.
Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. has asked the CHR to investigate the killings of tribal chieftains who are at the forefront of campaigns defending ancestral domains.
Complaints of human rights abuses surfaced following protests against the construction of an economic zone in Aurora that is being pushed by the Angara political clan led by Sen. Edgardo Angara. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon