By Jim Lloyd Dongiapon

The Senate of the Philippines will conduct an investigation into the deaths of 24 members of the Teduray tribe during the Severe Tropical Storm “Paeng”-induced landslide at the foot of Mount Minandar in Barangay Kusiong, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte on October 28 this year.

During his privilege speech on Tuesday, November 22, Senator Robinhood Padilla got emotional as he called on his colleagues to help in seeking justice for the victims of the tragedy.

Hinihingi ko po sa Senado na bigyan po ito ng pansin sapagka’t para saan po tayo kung hindi natin mabigyan ng proteksyon ang mga maralitang katutubo, ano tayo? Tayo na mismo, tayo na ang pumalit sa mga dayuhang mananakop. Tayo na ang kumukuha ng mga taong ito at dinadala natin ito sa kapahamakan (I am asking the Senate to look into this matter because if we cannot protect our indigenous peoples, what even is our purpose? We ourselves replaced the foreign invaders. We even are the ones who bring these people to harm),” Padilla said.

He added that if this matter is not investigated, Filipinos cannot be proud of their own flag if there are still indigenous Filipinos being oppressed by their fellow countrymen.

He also wanted to investigate the alleged forced transfer of the Teduray people to a housing project near Mount Minandar by a rich individual who wanted to develop the ancestral domain into a seaside resort.

Opposition members Senator Risa Hontiveros and Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III supported Padilla’s proposition.

Padilla plans to invite the representatives of the Teduray tribe, the Datu Odin Sinsuat local government unit, the resort owner, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) for them to explain their sides during the investigation.

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