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Tribal head joins NPA

Following the aborted peace talks, Blaan chief Daguil Capion has joined the  Communist Party of the Philippines’ New People’s Army in South Cotabato, the Katribu said Tuesday. The disappearance of farmer-activist Estelita Tacalan in Cagayan de Oro last week was blamed on the government’s crackdown on activists after the collapse of the talks, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said. Militant groups and lawmakers cited intensified attacks against the leftist activists after the Aquino government announced it had terminated the peace negotiations with the Utrecth-based National Democratic Front. They also pressed the government to make public the hit list that contained 235 “most wanted communists” with a total reward of P466.88 million. Kakay Tolentino, Katribu secretary general, said Capion decided to take up arms against the government because he had led his tribe in declaring a pangayaw (tribal war) against the Xstrata-Sagittarius Mining Inc. “Daguil Capion’s decision to join the NPA comes naturally--the Blaan people have been waging tribal war against Xstrata-SMI since 1995,” Tolentino said. Capion, she said, had to take up arms to protect their “ancestral lands” since the government had ended the talks that should have included the human and economic rights of indigenous people and their fight against big mining firms. Katribu’s call for the resumption of the peace talks came after the report that Capion, had joined the NPA. “Capion is one of the Blaan leaders who lead a pangayaw (tribal war) against the Xstrata-Sagittarius Mining Incorporated,” Tolentino said. “His wife and children were allegedly murdered by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 27th Infantry Battalion in the mining-affected mountain ranges in Tampakan, South Cotabato.” She said the struggle of the Cordillera people against the construction of the Chico River Dam project in the 1980s, led by Igorot martyr Macliing Dulag is not without taking up arms against an oppressive government. Richard Colao, KMP secretary general, said Tacalan, 60, left the Makabayan headquarters in Camaman-an, Cagayan de Oro City at around 9 a.m. of April 27, following a meeting on sectoral concerns and preparations for May 1 Labor Day activities. Colao said Tacalan was supposed to be on her way to Misamis Oriental East to meet up with her colleagues and iron out plans for the upcoming activities. But by 6 pm, people started to worry because she could not be reached anymore. Her mobile phone was off. Since then, her family and friends started looking for her but she disappeared without a trace, he said. Tacalan, fondly called by many as “Nanay Neneng”, is a member progressive peasant group KMP and Anakpawis Party-list. Being a long time member of KMP, Colao said Tacalan has been active in organizing farming communities in the rural areas and has been tireless in campaigning for genuine agrarian reform, social justice and human rights.
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