Pangayaw: Lumads’ legitimate form of resistance against destructive large-scale mining

Ka Efren

“We now have no other recourse but to fight back.”

Thus the lumads (collective term for the indigenous peoples of Mindanao) of the quadri-boundaries have spoken. Spoken with true grit as they disarmed the SMI (mining company) security guards in Barangay (village) Tablu, Tampakan town, South Cotabato, on Sunday, 27 November.

At least eight firearms were taken by a motley group of lumads who call themselves Red Pangayaw.

Pangayaw, as everybody knows, is the lumad version of vendetta for wrongs committed against the lumads and their way of life.

In a verbatim report culled from one of the leaders of the Red Pangayaw, this is what they said:

“We have been deceived by the company into thinking that this mine will bring us development and peace. The opposite is true. Now we have lost our livelihood, and we have no peace. What is more, the company is driving us away from our homes and our ancestral lands. So we have no other recourse but to fight back.”

“For the past five years since Xstrata started its exploration of our lands, we have tried to tell them peacefully that we do not want the mines. We do not want to destroy our mountains, our rivers, and our hunting grounds. We do not want the meagre income they give us in exchange for our livelihood. But they have been adamant in their desire to extract the gold and copper from our lands. Because they say our lands are rich with minerals. And they, the foreigners Xstrata, want these minerals for themselves.

“So there has been trouble. They deployed the 27th Infantry Battalion, the 39th Infantry Battalion, Task Force Kitaco, and several companies of security guards to pacify us, silence us, and later drive us away. We tried to negotiate, we tried to barricade, we tried to petition. But everything has come to
naught. So now there is no other recourse but to fight back.”

While the National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Far South Mindanao Region salutes this armed mass movement of the lumads or “Red Pangayaw” for its courage and determination to stand up against an enemy as daunting and as powerful as Xstrata-SMI, may we remind them of the following principles:

  1. This armed mass movement or Red Pangayaw, invoked from the B’laan justice system, is based on the legitimate and just demands of the lumads. As part of the lumads’ cultural tradition of solving crises and conflicts, it is not a simple expression of vengeance for a wrongdoing (as pangayaw is popularly known) but is part and parcel of the national democratic movement  which stems from the highest principles of the struggling Filipino masses.

  2. As such, it is careful and painstaking in knowing and pinpointing the real enemy. It is not indiscriminate like any ordinary pangayaw. Its targets are the armed and fascist components of the company such as the forces under the EastMinCom (Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines) specifically the 27th IB, the 39th IB, Special Civilian Armed Forces (SCAA), Task Force Kitaco, their intelligence operatives, private goons and security guards.

Lastly, Red Pangayaw will never be alone in its legitimate struggle to defend the lumads’ ancestral lands and their right to self-determination.