DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Rights advocates say that presidential peace adviser and retired general Carlito Galvez’s challenge to let European Union and United Nations investigate UCCP Haran’s alleged profiting from the Lumad in its sanctuary may reveal instead the real reason why the Lumad are displaced.
Galvez issued this challenge last week ago alleging that the protestant church United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) in Davao is “holding” more than a hundred Lumad families in the past years to solicit funds and to support the rebellion.
For human rights group Karapatan, inviting international bodies to investigate this matter is “important to shed light on the longstanding impacts of military operations in indigenous and peasant communities in Mindanao — not on the basis of the recycled lies by [Galvez],” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
Although the United Nations Human Rights Council has just announced it will not conduct an investigation on human rights violations in the Philippines, but instead will give technical assistance in building human rights capacity of the government, the challenge is still out to the European Union and UN bodies to look into the human rights situation of the Lumad.
Palabay is confident that the truth on why the Lumad are displaced will still come out. “Such statements by Galvez have been issued by other military officials in the past, which have been invalidated by independent fact-finding efforts and experts,” she added.
“Several local and international NGOs, as well as journalists and a UN independent expert, have interacted and documented the stories of the Lumad communities in sanctuary at the UCCP – Haran compound. The threats and harassment from State forces continue to hound them even while they were forcibly displaced from their communities due to military operations,” the rights activist said.
The alliance Movement Against Tyranny finds the challenge ironic as the Duterte administration has repeatedly rebuffed calls to let international rights bodies to investigate cases of extrajudicial killings and attacks on schools.
“This is rich coming from a top official of a government that has repeatedly rejected efforts by the international community to look into its atrocious human rights record,” the alliance said in a statement. “It is the Duterte government that has vehemently refused efforts by EU and UN member states to investigate the escalating human rights violations in the country, particularly those perpetrated by state security forces and state-backed para-military and vigilante groups.”
Palabay recalled that the 2015 visit of UN Dr. Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Internally Displaced Persons, led to the UN official to issue a statement to debunk the military’s claims on the Lumad. He pressed the displaced Lumad’s calls that “the long-term militarization of their region comes to an end and they can return with guarantees of safety, dignity and protection.” (davaotoday.com)davao city, davao news, european union, Human Rights, indigenous people, IP, lumad, Mindanao, politics, Rights, UCCP Haran, United Nations, Youth & Children