DILIMAN, Quezon City – The University of the Philippines Diliman community formally welcomed the Lumads from Mindanao in a press forum, Tuesday morning.
Faculty, staff and the administration showed their support to the delegates of Manilakbayan 2015 as they host the camp of the bakwits inside the campus.
When asked why they welcomed the Lumads who are accused as communists or New People’s Army supporters, UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan said that they “welcome every ideology in the university who needs our help”.
Ariel Casilao, Anakpawis Partylist first nominee, said that accusing the Lumads and their supporters as communists or NPAs “is the reason why there are illegal detention, massacres and killings in Mindanao”.
Casilao said “it is not true that the Aquino administration has no campaign to kill Lumad”.
“If there is no policy to kill Lumads, why was there a massacre last July? There were also massacres last August and September,” Casilao said.
On July 14, five farmers were killed in Paquibato district in Davao City. The military in a statement said the victims were members of the NPA who “fired at them while serving a warrant of arrest.”
However, the survivor of the incident, peasant leader Aida Seisa, appeared on June 24 days before the city council and told her account on the local officials.
She said those who were killed, namely Datu Ruben Enlog, Randy Carnasa and Oligario Quimbo, were civilians and not rebels. The Davao City Council approved the report of the committee on Human Rights that sought “to recall, investigate and file appropriate charges against erring soldiers involved during the incident”.
On August 19, five civilians were killed by alleged state forces in a town of Pangantucan, Bukidnon.
The military also maintained that the incident was a legitimate encounter. But a 15-year old survivor, said that his relatives and his father who were killed during the incident are all civilians.
Read related story: The probe mission on ‘Pangantucan 5’: Encounter or Massacre?
The boy plead to the soldiers to spare them and take them as prisoners instead. The boy recalled that the moment he saw his father was shot, he quickly ran away.
On September 1, a Lumad school director and two community leaders were killed in front of a community in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
The victims were Alternative Learning Center for Livelihood and Development (Alcadev) school director, tribal leader Dionel Campos and Datu Jovello Sinzo.
The residents have already filed charges against the perpetrators who were allegedly members of the Magahat Bagani Force, a paramilitary group in the area.
The military has also denied that it has involvement on the incident. As of this posting, no perpetrators have been arrested.
“For three months massacres are happening in Lumad communities and (President Aquino) would say that there is no policy of killing?” Casilao said during the forum.
Attacks Vs IP schools
Aside from killings, the delegates also called for the “stop of attacks” against Lumad schools.
In Bukidnon, a school built by Father Fausto Tentorio, PIME, an Italian priest who was killed in Arakan Valley in 2011 was ordered closed by the village chief allegedly because it has “links with the NPAs”.
On October 23, as the Manilakbayan delegates traveled to National Capital Region, the Misfi Academy in Sitio Dao, White Culaman, Bukidnon was padlocked by Barangay Chairman Felipe Cabugnason.
The school, which Samarca heads is also alleged as an “NPA school”.
Prof. Nestor Castro, UP Diliman Vice Chancellor for community affairs, said they support the call of the IPs to save Lumad schools.
“There is no monopoly on education, we forward and support even the alternative schools as schools are sources of knowledge,” Castro said.
Prof. Dino Concepcion of Save Our Schools network said that the right to education is not only for the people in urban areas but also in the rural.
He said, “despite the (government’s) lack of attention to the education, Lumads built their own schools. Not only that education is provided, but also livelihood.”
Concepcion said that since the network is created, they have been supporting the Lumad initiatives on the creation of alternative schools.
According to the network, there is a need to save Lumad schools as the attacks on these schools occur since 2000. Concepcion said that since 2012 there are already 56 lumads killed.
On Monday evening, the UP community welcomed the delegates of the Manilakbayan as they marched the university avenue. Students met them along the way while the UP faculty, admin, and staff waited for them at the Quezon hall.
Chancellor Tan gave UP Sablay to Pasaka secretary general Kerlan Fanagel and Michelle Campos, the daughter of a tribal leader who was among those killed in Surigao del Sur.
The delegates are now staying at a camp in the College of Human Kinetics ground.
The camp out dubbed as ‘Kampuhan sa Diliman’ was the school’s form of support to the Lumads who wish to voice out their issues here in the National Capital Region.
Charlotte France of Anakbayan UP Diliman, one of the groups who prepared the Kampuhan said that “it took weeks to prepare the camp.”
She said that “they are also recruiting volunteers that could help as part of different committees such as, security, food, and program committees.”
France assured that there is a 24-hour security for the Lumads with help from the UP Diliman Police and Barangay UP security.
Indigenous products such as wallets, sling bags, and tuba (a Lumad bandana) are also sold on the entrance gate of the camp. (davaotoday.com)