The landgrabbing of Tiruray and Moro ancestral lands by big agribusiness corporations is the reason behind a bloody conflict in Barangay Kalamongog, Lebak, Sultan Kudarat.
The conflict escalated with the entry of the Lapanday Foods Corporation, an agribusiness corporation owned by the landlord comprador Lorenzo family which is notorious for bootlicking whoever is in power. The company has been operating its banana plantation in the area for more than one year. It deceived residents into selling or leasing their lands in exchange for money and employment. However, not all were convinced as some families opposed the entry of the plantation.
The company deployed its private security forces that were backed by the AFP. They employed some of residents who agreed approved of their operation.
The company provoked the said residents to evict the farmers who are opposed to its operations by claiming that the lands that the farmers have since been tilling are part of their ancestral domain.
The company succeeded in dividing the community. The rift escalated last year after the murder of former barangay captain Diosdado M. Eleazar, who was known for opposing the plantation expansion. Residents disclosed that armed goons were behind the crime but both the local government and the PNP have not acted on the crime to the hold suspects accountable.
He was replaced by former first councilor Hairudin Tato Gubel who was a critic of the plantation. He was killed by the plantation’s armed goons on March 17. He was replaced by incumbent barangay officer-in-charge Nolasco Zamora Ado who is a personnel of the company.
The company is making it appear that the conflict in Kalamongog is a tribal war between Tirurays and Moros. In an interview, Ado accused the relatives of Gubel of involvement in an shooting incident which took place in Sitio Kiatong on March 25. He is also asserting that the ongoing conflict is politically motivated.
Residents are worried that if the conflict will continue to escalate, they will no longer be able to return to their lands that are being grabbed by Lapanday.