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Higaonons, local execs to sue vlogger with cyber libel

By CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN

ESPERANZA, Agusan del Sur— Lumad leaders and local officials are poised to lodge a cyber libel complaint against a social media vlogger for spreading serious accusations against them mainly issues on ancestral land claims.

Under fire is a certain vlogger who uses account names “Ike Gavelino” and “Gavelino E. Rubio” for spreading a series of hard-hitting commentaries aired live on Facebook against Mayor Deo Manpatilan, Jr., village officials, and tribal leaders in the two communities here.

The vlogger who puts Quezon City in his account address claiming to be the leader of a nationwide group he called United Indigenous Peoples of LuzViMinda (short for the country’s three biggest islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao) lambasted Manpatilan for not helping the poor lumads in their town, for maintaining a private army, for being allegedly involved in illegal drugs and a supporter of the communist New Peoples Army (NPA).

Teddy Manpatilan, head of Tribal Affairs Unit at the Mayor’s Office of Esperanza local government, (speaking) says lumad leaders and local officials  are contemplating to file a cyber libel suit against social media vlogger Ike Gavelino.Photo courtesy of Municipal Information Office of Esperanza 

Mindanao Daily News tried to get the vlogger’s side via direct message on Facebook and initially confessed his real name is Ike Rubio Gavileno who claims he belongs to Sugbuwanon Hiligaynon tribe.

Asked he can substantiate his allegations against his adversaries, Gavileno just seen the questions for four minutes and eventually deleted his Ike Gavileno account.

He also attacked Piglawigan village chieftain Nilo Guillarte for allegedly selling lands he claimed were ancestrally owned by Wayoy Clan, bringing along heavily-armed bodyguards to harass clan members living in their community and an NPA supporter.

Other leaders in neighboring lumad communities were also the subject of the vlogger’s litany of criticisms for allegedly being in cahoots with the Manpatilan and Guillarte.

Teddy Manpatilan, head of the tribal affairs unit at the Mayor’s Office, told local media in a press conference Wednesday that they are contemplating filing the cyber libel complaint against the vlogger after they will find out his real identity.

Carlos “Datu Bulubagyo” Otacan, Municipal Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative at the town council of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur(speaking)  says the tribal councils of Higanonon, Banwaon, and Manobo communities will pass a resolution declaring social media vlogger “Persona Non Grata” in their town. Photo courtesy of Municipal Information Office of Esperanza 

Teddy refuted the vlogger’s claims that the local government and indigenous people councils do not have an Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP) saying the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title No. 255 covering 20 villages in Esperanza had already ADSDPP under Phase 1 and Phase 2.

For his part, Guillarte denied he had a bodyguard to harass Wayoy clan members to grab their lands since their village had already residents who owned farmlands with legal land titles before the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 became law.

Another Higaonon tribal chieftain Floro “Datu Kampilan” Engag in the neighboring village of Langag has clarified there are already 55 land titles issued by the government in 1955 long before the Wayoy Clan started to claim their ancestral lands.

Milbert “Datu Kahusay” Agosto, a leader of the Wayoy Clan, said “Mr. Ike” came to them in 2020 to incite a protest to reclaim their ancestral lands but later learned his real intention is vested personal interest.

“ I am disgusted to watch him doing all the false tirades against the mayor and many other leaders,” Agosto said.

Erwin Dumaguing, a former Army soldier tasked as team leader of Task Force Salakawan from 2004 to 2010 tasked to neutralize NPA rebels in all Higaonon villages in Esperanza, said the mayor’s father former mayor Deo “Datu Mankombate Manpatilan, Sr., worked out to put at least 44 Higaonon warriors to be regular Army soldiers to fight the communist rebels.

Randy Manpatilan, another staff at the tribal affairs unit, said the Manpatilan clan have been staunch anti-communist advocates that former mayor Lavi “Datu Mansaulog” Manpatilan was gunned down by NPA hitmen while attending a wedding at a Catholic chapel in Butuan in the 1980s.

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