DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Soldiers have been undertaking the “hamletting” of indigenous communities in its all-out war against communist rebels, even before the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte, a militant lumad group in Mindanao decried.
In his remarks on Tuesday, Dec. 18, Duterte said he will “hamlet” IPs to keep them from being influenced by communist rebels.
“There is a certain point but it will be this year.Ako, para unahan na nako sila para dili na sila mang-imbento (I have to be the one to say this first so that they won’t make up false stories). I will hamlet them. Why? Because if they remain scattered, they are really in danger.I cannot get their loyalty if they are scattered because they are afraid to be far from each other,” he said during the Barangay Summit on Good Governance in Davao City.
“Now I will hamlet them. You natives won’t be able to say that you’re being imprisoned. But I will make a secure place for you that will be your territory for the meantime. I will be the one to decide whether you’ll be given arms.No one else will be able to enter. You will be the ones who will guard it,” Duterte added.
But Pasaka, a Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao Region said that lumads have long been affected by the “hamletting” of soldiers while they are “encamping on rural communities” amid the implementation of counter-insurgency campaign Oplan Kapayapaan.
“Soldiers are limiting the movement of the residents. They are forcing the IPs to first sign in logbooks before going to their farms. If you won’t be able to come home during the curfew set by the soldiers, they will accuse you of meeting with the New People’s Army(NPA),” Pasaka chairperson Kerlan Fanagel said.
“There’s also food blockade. Soldiers would prevent others to go outside the community who intend to buy food or they limit the amount of food to be brought inside the community.IPs suffer from hunger caused by the food blockade,” Fanagel added.
Duterte’s pronouncement is similar to the hamletting that was implemented during the Marcos dictatorship, according to Fanagel, which was resorted to keeping the public from knowing about the rights violations happening in lumad and peasant communities.
The group doubted that Duterte wants to protect the lumad with his plan.They believed that it is intended to pave the way for the entry of big foreign projects like mining, plantations, and dams in ancestral lands.
Pasaka said that Duterte’s “militarist approach” is only leading to further bloodshed. Instead, they called on the president to pursue the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace talks to truly address the almost five decades of rebellion in the country. (davaotoday.com)