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Higaonon farmers harassed, says group

Manila, Philippines – The Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization (KRLO) has scored the agribusiness firm A. Brown Co. Inc. (ABCI) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for harassing Higaonon farmers in Opol, Misamis Oriental.

KRLO said Pangalasag, an organization of the minority Higaonon, had been opposing the palm oil operation of ABCI in Opol and demanding an end to land-grabbing by the foreign corporation. The area being claimed by ABCI has been cultivated by the Higaonon and planted to bananas, coconuts, and other crops, KTLO said.

“Last March 10, ABCI guards terrorized seven Pangalasag members and barred them from getting “bagacay,“ a variety of bamboo. They were denied entry to what an area that had been considered as part of their ancestral domain,“ KRLO revealed.

The Higaonon farmers did not proceed and went to another area. “An hour after this, several armed men followed them and fired shots upon seeing them. These men claimed they were NBI agents,“ the group added. (Marvyn N. Benaning)