I am deeply saddened and I strongly condemn the ruthless killing of Davao Oriental’s most respected tribal leader Datu Copertino Banugan, his brother Ramon Banugan and relative Benny Banugan.
The tragic death of Datu Banugan is a huge loss and a big blow not only to the peace-loving, respectful, and honorable Mandaya people of Davao Oriental but for all peace-loving people in our country.
On behalf of a grieving people, I stand with the people of Sangab, Caraga, who are deeply affected by this senseless and terrible attack on a leader who stood for his people’s rights for a peaceful and harmonious living.
Datu Copertino Banugan was the chieftain of the upland community of Sangab, whose strong leadership led Sangab along with twelve other sitios in Barangay Pichon to be awarded with CADT-01 — the first of such titles given to indigenous communities in Southern Mindanao. With this title, the Mandaya Peoples’ claim to their ancestral domain has been strengthened.
Sangab, for years has been known as the only IP community in this part of the country that has preserved its culture and traditions, making them a huge part of the province’s cultural tourism.
Protected under the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 or the IPRA Law, they are entitled the right to self-governance and self-determination, to have their own justice system, conflict resolutions, and peace-building process through their own tribal council, and pursue economic development – things which some people may misunderstand.
Armed with these key provisions of the law and their love for independence, the people of Sangab had developed a strong resolve to protect their community and to fight for its rights and freedom.
In terms of the investigation, our PNP is in the lead in partnership with the Philippine Army. Together they have been beefing up security efforts in the province as we know enough to say that the attack was a clear act of a threat against peace and an act motivated by hate.
To the bereaved family who lost three of their loved ones, I convey my heartfelt condolences. We are praying for them to console their broken hearts.
Let me also take this opportunity to express my support to the people of Sangab. We stand with you in this very difficult moment. We will endeavor to get justice for the senseless murder of your great tribal chieftain.
Rest assured Datu Banugan’s legacy will be engraved in our province’s history. His life’s work devoted to reawakening the Mandaya culture and traditions that proved his love for his people will be sustained. And I believe that this will be made so through his successor as the Provincial Government will do its part to help the Sangab community in any way it can. His enemies may have succeeded in ending his truly meaningful and precious life, but it will never destroy the hearts and minds of the great Mandayan Peoples.
Despite of this unfortunate incident, the Provincial Government in collaboration with partner agencies will continue its efforts in sustaining peace. The Philippine Army’s Peace and Development Outreach Program or PDOP which has already gained headway in peace and development will continue to reach out to communities, to communicate with them and to work together with them.
The Provincial Government-initiated Barangay Outreach Caravan which we recently launched and which has now become a regular program will serve as an opening salvo to more programs that will bolster economic development in the communities.
Positive strides have been made in the name of peace because we choose to take the road to peace by pursuing political and social change without the use of arms.
As we go together, we will draw inspiration from Datu Banugan’s lifework. In the face of this hate and senseless violence, we will help one another. We will stand united to protect our people against those who threaten our peace. God bless us all.
GOVERNOR NELSON DAYANGHIRANG