DAVAO CITY – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said that he was trying to educate North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco when he told her that someone should talk to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in order to resolve the issue of the indigenous people (IP) evacuees in the Haran Mission Center compound.
More than 700 lumads coming from Talaingod and Kapalong in Davao del Norte and some parts of Bukidnon provinces evacuate d from their communities due to an alleged militarization.
The lumads sought refuge in the Haran compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Davao City since April.
Duterte said that this issue “does not only concern politics, but also ideology.”
“In our country, it’s not solely democratic here. We also have different ideologies. From the (Social) Democrats and Nationalists,” Duterte said.
The mayor also said that “two-thirds of the armed people in the mountains controlled by the New People’s Army (NPA) are lumads.”
“Now, I was not mocking you when I advised you that. I was trying to educate you of the situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Catamco in a press conference Wednesday expressed her dismay over the statement of the mayor which she said was “irresponsible”.
“You are mocking our tribe, the insults are too much, the oppression, if this is the statement, then you as a mayor, what should be done? It’s like saying that we should just surrender?” she said.
Catamco also said that they will “take the lumads out” of the Haran compound with the police. On Thursday morning, around 500 policemen, including riot squads, arrived in Haran.
Read related story: Davao police raid IP evacuation camp inside church compound
Duterte said that she asked Catamco not to rush the supposed “rescue” operation of the lumads, but the congresswoman said she wanted it done before President Aquino’s State Of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
“I told you not to rush it. (I told you to) talk to the CPP. I already told the lumads to go back to their communities, they told me they will be leaving on August 10,” Duterte said.
“You did not wait, so you went on (with the rescue operation). Mind you, just to put you on the proper perspective, you are not a member of the executive department. Your privilege and powers are within the four walls of the Congress,” he added.
Duterte said that if Catamco wants to do something with the issue, she has to pass a resolution to the Congress directing the police and other agencies to take charge in the matter.
“You are not empowered to do that. You can only observe, or maybe pass a law or a resolution or deliver a speech in Congress condemning certain acts and ask the plenary or your committee to recommend a government entity to act,” he said.
The “rescue” operation last Thursday left 15 injured, including two policemen, after the police forced their way inside the Haran compound.
The UCCP described the police assault as “disrespectful of the sanctity of the Church”. (davaotoday.com)
Read related story: Police assault on church compound disrespects Church – UCCP leaders