BAYAN Bicol welcomes national minorities’ Lakbayan 2017

By Reynard Magtoto

NAGA CITY – For the second time on their joint Lakbayan, more than a thousand indigenous peoples (IPs) and Moro communities from Mindanao are on their way to Manila to protest the intensifying oppression of Duterte administration against tribal minorities.

BAYAN Bicol welcomes the national minority struggle.

The national minorities which are composed of Moro people and IPs are experiencing national oppression and blasphemy in the collective rights on ancestral lands and territories and in their self-determination for the longest time.

This year, the national minorities led by Sandugo – Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination will caravan through Cebu, Bicol – holding main programs in Masbate and Camarines Sur, and southern Tagalog regions before converging in Manila on September 1. They will then proceed at University of the Philippines Diliman to camp-out until the anniversary of Marcos’ Martial Law on September 21.

The progressive organization in the region supports their call against environmental plunder of natural resources, attacks on IP communities and schools, implementation of Martial Law and the declaration of an all-out war.

During the interview of Kodao in their caravan in Cebu, Chairperson Kerlan Fanagel of PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao said Martial Law in Mindanao must stop and the all-out war all over the country under Oplan Kapayapaan.

‘IPcentric approach’ of Oplan Kapayapaan

“This Oplan Kapayapaan has an “IPcentric approach” so we can see now the continued attacks in whole Mindanao and in lumad schools where it involves the killing of IP leaders, peasant leaders in mindanao and even in the whole Philippines,” said Fanagel.

Fanagel added that the declaration and extension of martial law in Mindanao intensifies the increasing human rights violations through bombing of peasant and lumad communities. “We can assure these on what is happening now to our moro people in Marawi,” he said.

Both BAYAN Bicol and the national minorities also call to resume the Peace Talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

BAYAN Bicol spokesperson Dan Balucio said they will be holding major “Salubungan” in Masbate, August 26, and Camarines Sur, August 27, to meet more than 1,500 lakbayanis with traditional handshake and exchange of tokens among leaders.

“In Bicol, AFP and PNP continue to harass, torture and kill peasants and even IPs in communities. With the continued implementation of the US-instigated counter-insurgency programs of the past under the Oplan Kapayapaan of the present regime, Duterte desperately protecting its state forces who brutally attacking the people mostly in communities of IPs,” Balucio said.

BAYAN Bicol cited Antonio Narvaez who belongs to the indigenous group Aeta in Camarines Sur that was illegally arrested and detained when these troops led by 2nd Lt. Coram accused Antonio as NPA member during their alleged combat operations in Sangay, Camarines Sur on July 19.

READ STORY:Family filed writ of amparo over 83rd IBPA’s illegal arrest, detention of civilian

Unpeace in Lumad communities

Karapatan cited several documented aerial strikes in indigenous communities that have put the Lumad at risk, among other forms of rights violations. They have testimonies of lumads who have been most affected by military operations and evidences to prove the AFP’s abuses.

As of July 31, 2017, Karapatan has documented 357, 659 victims of indiscriminate firing and aerial bombardments, targeting indigenous and Moro communities. This has resulted to the forced evacuation of more than 400,000 residents all over affected communities in the country. Moreover, 31,661 individuals have been affected by the use of schools and other public places for military purposes.

According to the data of Save Our School (SOS) Network, about 80% of the attacks against Lumad schools by the military and paramilitary groups happened in Southern Mindanao.

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 (EJKs), 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.

Among the reported incidents of EJKs perpetuated by the AFP against Lumads happened 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.

“There is no peace and security in rural and indigenous communities because of the AFP’s combat operations and encampment in communities. With the AFP’s violations, there has been no scarcity of witnesses and accounts from victims and their kin that can easily disprove this,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

“There is a systematic attack against indigenous communities, who have continued their struggle for self-determination. With US-instigated counter-insurgency programs of the past and present administrations, such attacks are a State policy,” Palabay added. ( Image from Sandugo)

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