Lumads gather in congress vs Martial Law extension in Mindanao

By Reynard Magtoto

QUEZON CITY – Lumads united with progressive groups in NCR hold protest action in the House of Representatives today against the proposal of President Rodrigo Duterte to extend Martial Law until December 2017.

Today is the 60th day of Martial law declaration in Mindanao and the day of the congress special session to extend the Martial law.

According to Salinlahi Secretary General Eule Rico Bonganay, the extension of Martial law is an outright declaration of war against the Moro and indigenous communities in Mindanao and State forces are using this opportunity to push Moro and Lumads away from their ancestral lands.

“The extension of Martial law allows further attacks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Lumad schools and communities as its declaration two months ago have resulted to forcible evacuation of thousands of national minorities and a multitude of other violations,” Bonganay said.

On July 20, Save Our Schools (SOS) Network, through the ACT Teachers’ Party list and Gabriela Women’s Party filed house resolutions seeking to investigate the cases of human rights violations and military attacks against Lumad schools and communities documented after the declaration of Martial law in Mindanao.

Photo from Salinlahi

One of the incidents cited in a house resolution filed in House of Representatives include the reported incident last July 13 where members of peasant organization HuMabin namely Carlito Arado, 54 and Carolina Arado, 52 were killed at their house after members of 46th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army indiscriminately fired at them.

At the same time, Analiza Simbahon, a member of Parents Teacher and Community Association (PTCA) of Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) in Macasicareg, Brgy. Anitapan, Mabini and also President of Masicareg Farmers Association, together with her two children was admitted at the hospital due to severe gunshot wounds.

Other resolutions were also filed to investigate the closure of 20 schools of Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services (CLANS) in Sultan Kudarat; and the indiscriminate firing of a CAFGU member against teachers and students of Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center STTILC) in Talaigod, Davao del Norte last June in aid of legislation.

There are 68 incidents of military attacks affecting 89 Lumad schools from July 2016 to July 2017 that worsened after the declaration of Martial law.

Salinlahi Photo

“From Aquino administration up to now, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is consciously waging a genocidal campaign against Lumads and other indigenous peoples who are resisting the incursion of business interests in their ancestral land. With the declaration of Martial law in the entirety of Mindanao, state forces has the upper hand to militarize, kill and push Lumads and Moros away from their lands” said Bonganay, who is also the lead convenor of Save Our School Network.

According to the data of SOS Network, about 80% of the military attacks against Lumad schools happened in Southern Mindanao (SMR), the President’s home region.

There are 89 schools and more than 2500 students victimized by the said attacks perpetrated by state forces. These cases include military occupation, extra-judicial killings, threat, harassment, intimidation of students and teachers, destruction of school properties, indiscriminate firing, vilification, closure or threat of closure of school, filling of trumped-up charges against school personnel, illegal arrest and detention, enforced disappearances, torture and forcible evacuation.

“No one will benefit from these attacks but the Armed Forces and their foreign masters to freely operate their destructive mining and other businesses. The AFP are exploiting the declaration of Martial law and Marawi crisis in their campaign against progressive groups and Indigenous people of Mindanao hoping that this will ward off opposition against from their business operations. ” Bonganay added.

SOS Network lambasted President Duterte over his statement during his meeting with the progressive groups in Malacanang last July 19 claiming that militarization of Lumad communities and its consequent military abuses are just part of the ongoing civil war.

“President Duterte has seemingly turned into a narrow, militarist warmonger contrary to his pro-Lumad postures before he became president” said Bonganay, adding that in 2015, Duterte called for the pull-out of state forces in Lumad communities during the Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino administration against our indigenous people who oppose destructive mining activities.

The groups urged the public to show solidarity with the Lumad and Moro peoples who were forcibly displaced by the ongoing militarization and airstrikes in Mindanao.

To urge Duterte to cancel its proposal to extend martial law, Lumad children from CARAGA and urban poor children from NCR also hold today a “letter writing” to President Duterte to stop the martial law in Mindanao and call on to stop the military encampment and attacks on Lumad schools and communities. (BaretangBikolnon.com)

Salinlahi Photo

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