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  • Legal Rights Center

Five years on, the pursuit for justice endures for the TAMASCO 8

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

Datu Victor Danyan, the former chieftain of the T'boli-Manobo people who was slain along with seven others amid their opposition to plantations and mines encroaching into their ancestral domain. Image by LRC

Today, exactly five years after the massacre of the TAMASCO 8, the wounds of their people and their lands continue to bleed.

Today, we join their kin and comrades in the T'boli Manobo S'daf Claimants Organization (TAMASCO) in their continuing struggles, knowing that healing can only come from nothing but the full force of justice.

We remember how, in 2017, TAMASCO defenders were up against multiple threats to their ancestral domains–the land grabs from the M&S company’s Dawang coffee plantation; the intrusion of San Miguel’s coal mining companies; the relentless militarization by military and paramilitary troops.

A T'bolo-Manobo family's view of the land from their home. Photo by LRC

We remember what was, and continues to be, at stake: more than 75,000 hectares of indigenous territories from which life flows: water, food, flora, fauna, shelter, and protection for the multitude of people from the peaks to the valleys.

We remember how, for fiercely protecting the land that gives life to all and to generations yet born, Datu Victor Danyan and seven other indigenous defenders were repaid by the 33rd and 27th Infantry Battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with bullets piercing their bodies.

Coal mining operations by subsidiaries of San Miguel Corporation have commenced operations at Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. Photo by Mark Saludes/LiCAS.News

It is impossible not to remember because the loved ones these martyred heroes left still continue to face the relentless march of extraction and destruction. San Miguel's coal mines have commenced the stripping of the mountains. The Dawang plantation continues to operate despite receiving a cease and desist order from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, its guards harassing villagers.

Light finally shines in the darkness of Datal Bonlagon, Barangay Ned, as solar panels and batteries finally provide rural electrification for the community. Photo by EM Taqueban/LRC

But with remembering comes enduring. Resisting the pathway to a burning world set by coal mines, solar panels now modestly rise above the huts and fields of the T'boli-Manobo, glimmering with hope that they can stand their ground against the onslaught of steel, concrete, and fossil fuels.

Today we renew our pledge that we will continue to endure with our brothers and sisters in TAMASCO. We urge our fellow concerned citizens to stand with us, remembering, never forgetting, that justice denied here is not only for the TAMASCO 8, but for our common home, our common future.

Justice for Datu Victor Danyan and the TAMASCO 8. Justice for All.

Members of the Danyan clan held the ritual of "Damsu," a T'boli Manobo tradition of remembrance, to commemorate the lives of their leader and elder, Datu Victor Danyan, and their kin who were slain by the military. The clan continues to call for justice for the slain TAMASCO 8. Photo by TAMASCO

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