By Mike Crismundo
The three foreigners who reportedly entered the ancestral land of lumads (natives) had caused worry to the residents, particularly the highland community folks in San Miguel town, Surigao del Sur, according to reports reaching this region’s premier and capital city Friday.
The three foreigners with 12 Filipino companions entered at 10 a.m. on Tuesday in the ancestral domain of lumads and spent an overnight in Sitio Hayon, Barangay Libas Sud, San Miguel without the necessary clearance from the Municipal Tribal Council (MTC) and the local government unit (LGU) of San Miguel with unknown purpose, said Capt. Francisco P. Garello Jr., Civil Military Operations (CMO) officer of the Army’s 36th Infantry (Valor) Battalion, in a statement sent to The Manila Bulletin yesterday.
At 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday (Feb. 21), troops of 36th IB intercepted said foreigners for a routine process at the checkpoint in Dreamland Patrol Base, Sitio Dreamland, Barangay Alba, Tago, Surigao del Sur, Garello said.
However, one of the foreigners allegedly lacked proper identification hence, the group was invited at Tago Municipal Police Station (MPS) for documentation and identification. They were later released after documentation as witnessed by their legal counsel, Garello said.
The foreigners namely: Miracle Osman from Malawi, Africa; Jennifer Marie Abella from California, USA; and Prof. Boehringer Gill Hale, New South Wales, Australia with their companions claimed that they already asked permission from theprovincial administrator’s office in Surigao del Sur, the LGU of San Miguel and the Barangay Local Government Unit of Libas Sud, San Miguel town.
The group paid a courtesy call on Efren Rivas, provincial administrator of Surigao del Sur on Feb. 19, 2018 and never mentioned about their itinerary nor did they ask permission to proceed to San Miguel, claimed Garello.
According to Datu Rico Maca, the Municipal Indigenous Peoples (IPs) mandatory representative of San Miguel, the entry of the foreigners and their companions violated the municipal ordinance of San Miguel town into CADT areas.
The Manobo tribal leader cited Section 1 of the Municipal Ordinance N0. 03 Series of 2017 dated January 3, 2017, an Ordinance Regulating Entry of Migrants into Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT)areas within this municipality [San Miguel] and Providing Penalty for any Violation thereof stated that No migrants including peoples organization and nongovernmental organization shall be allowed to enter into CADT areas within the municipality for any of the following purposes without clearance from the Municipal Tribal Office.
On the other hand, the said foreigners and their companion also allegedly did not coordinate with the local authorities.
“The group did not coordinate with the proper authority,” said Lt. Col. Xerxes A. Trinidad, commanding officer of the 36th “Valor” Battallion.
“As foreign nationals they could have coordinated with us for their safety and security, because if something happened there, it will be put on our shoulders since the municipality of San Miguel in this province is part of my area of operations,” he said.
As part of routine checkpoint, field units subjected them to the usual process which all other commuters did. “Unfortunately we found out that one of the foreigners lacked the necessary papers, so we invited them for documentation in the Tago Municipal Police Station,” the 36th IB commander added.