Bukdinon Lumad farmers decry killing of Higaonon farmer
By Keith Bacongco
Early in the morning of Thursday, September 1, residents near the regional office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) along the corner of Tiano and Del Pilar Streets in Cagayan de Oro City were caught by surprise upon seeing a coffin displayed by the side of the road.
It wasn’t one of those fake coffins commonly used by demonstrators signifying the death of democracy or some other ideals; it was one real coffin with one real corpse inside, that of Welcie Gica, a Higaonon farmer allegedly killed by one of the security guards of a big ranch in Maramag, Bukidnon owned by the Villalon family, the patriarch of whom was former mayor of neighboring Kibawe town.
Near the coffin sat Rosita Gica, grieving the loss of her son.
Welcie’s colleagues, all members of the Panalsalan Dagumbaan Tribal Association (PADATA), brought his body to the NCIP because they accused the government office of honoring what they called a fake free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from another tribal group that eventually led to the Villalons’ occupation of the ranch instead of the Higaonons owning the lands they had been tilling for long.
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