QUEZON CITY — Delegates of the human rights caravan, Manilakbayan from Mindanao marched from their camp inside the University of the Philippines Diliman to the national office of the Commission on Human Rights on Wednesday morning to condemn the agency’s “slow response” on the investigation of the cases of Lumad killings in Mindanao.
The group also puts up mock dead bodies wrapped in a hammock tied to a bamboo as they rallied in front of the CHR office. The mock bodies represent the Lumad killings from the different regions in Mindanao: Davao Region, Western Mindanao, Soccsksargen, North-Central Mindanao, and Caraga Region.
Each body was placed with the number of cases of extra judicial killings (EJKs) under President Benigno Aquino’s term. The group said Davao Region has 46 lumad victims of EJK, 25 in Soccsksargen, 39 in North-Central Mindanao, 25 in Western Mindanao, and 20 in Caraga region.
Kerlan Fanagel, third nominee of Katribu Partylist, said that they wanted to have a dialogue with the CHR. Fanagel said “CHR is not only blind and deaf, but also contradicts its claim that they are an independent party.”
Fanagel claimed that the CHR is “part and conniving” with the state on the implementation of its counter-insurgency campaign, Oplan Bayanihan. The group said Oplan Bayanihan is the reason why the Lumads and progressive groups are targeted as enemies of the government.
Datu Danny Polendo of Pangantucan in Bukidnon also questioned CHR’s alleged inaction, as he clarified that he was a relative of the five civilians who were killed last August 19 in Pangantucan, after government soldiers claimed that they were members of New People’s Army.
The Army also said the killing was a “legitimate encounter”. But a survivor turned witness, denied the claims of the military.
Read related story: The probe mission on ‘Pangantucan 5’: Encounter or Massacre?
“The witness is here, why is it until now, no one is persecuted?” said Polenda.
Polendo said that after they presented the 12-year-old witness to the CHR, “there is still no endorsement raised to the court”.
“While it is still early, we want the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be held accountable on the case,” he said.
He said “it is very clear that the AFP are the perpetrators of the massacres based on the accounts of the witness.”
Polendo, together with 700 other Mindanaoans traveled from Mindanao on October 21 to seek justice for the victims of lumad killings in Mindanao.
Polendo said that they suffer from hunger and thirst during their travel and protest actions.
“But we are willing to sacrifice these things in order to seek justice for our brothers in Mindanao in the National Capital Region,” he said.
Femia Cullamat, one of the leaders of Lumads from Caraga region, said CHR has already conducted a series of dialogue in Davao City and Surigao del Sur. But, she said, the agency has still no actions on their demands including the disbandment of paramilitary groups in their communities.
Cullamat said that those who were killed “were just defending their ancestral domain from foreign entities.”
“What is wrong with defending your ancestral domain? For there are a lot of lumads killed because of just defending the environment,” he said.
Both Polendo and Cullamat, before the CHR, demand to “disband the paramilitary groups in their communities and pull out the military troops. (davaotoday.com)