DAVAO CITY – About 1,000 indigenous peoples from five different areas of Mindanao staged on Thursday a human chain outside the Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command here to protest alleged abuses in tribal areas.
The tribal protesters came from Western Mindanao, North Central Mindanao, Caraga Region, Southern Mindanao and the Soccsksargen, said Sheena Duazo, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.
Protesters earlier marched from their assembly area in Panacan before they staged their protest at 10:00 am outside the entrance of the Eastmincom headquarters in Panacan, 20 kilometers north of downtown.
They then joined hands in a symbolic human chain along the cramped national highway.
Police were visible along the highway going to Eastmincom as members of the Traffic Management Center (TMC) managed the traffic. Marchers also shouted slogans while they marched.
Duazo said the protest “seeks to ask government to stop the militarization in the ancestral domains and the unabated human rights violations perpetrated by the military against the lumads”.
In a statement, Dulphing Ogan, secretary general of Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad (Kalumaran) said that “militarization will never cease the insurgency; its real intention is to drive away the Lumads from their ancestral land”.
“Until now, the Lumads are still the victims of Oplan Bayanihan. The Army hunts them and accused them as members of the New People’s Army, their schools that are donated by different NGOs are being destroyed saying these schools are for NPAs. This clearly violates the human right of the lumad),” said Benjie Badal, secretary general of Kadamay – Southern Mindanao.
Datu Monico Cayog from the Bagobo tribe said that some of them are traumatized because of the presence of military troops in their community.
“Ipahibalo namo, ipadayag namo ang sentimento namo bahin sa lumad sa kabukiran tungod kay ang mga komunidad sa bukid karon subsob kaayo ang militarisasyon, madislokar ang mga tao. Mao ning nagmartsa mi sa Eastmincom aron madungog nila unsay mulo namong mga lumad nga ang uban na-trauma na tungod sa presensya sa sundalo
(We will publicize our sentiments regarding the communities in the hinterlands that are affected by militarization, people are being displaced. That is why we have this march to Eastmincom for them to hear our protests for some of us are traumatized because of the presence of soldiers),” he said.General Secretary of Paquibato District Peasant Alliance Aida Seisa said that they condemn Eastmincom for grave abuse and violation of the indigenous peoples’ human rights.
“Ang nakadaot man gud sa atong estado sa pagkakaron mao ang padayon nga paggrabe sa militarization sa kabukiran ug dili lang katong mga mag-uuma ang ilang main target. Tungod kay kun sila adunay maabot nga pagpang-harass sa mga kasundaluhan ug mapatyan sila, ang katong mga yanong mamumuo maoy ilang mapasumanginlan (The sad thing about our status right now is the continuous militarization in the hinterlands and it is not only the farmers they are targeting. Because if they are being harassed or killed by soldiers, they will always accuse the ordinary workers),” Seisa said.
Bai Josephine Pagalan of Kasalo Caraga said that because of the entry of mining companies in Mindanao contributed to the unending militarization.
According to human rights group KARAPATAN, Lumads make up most of the 108 victims of extrajudicial killings in Mindanao, 233 cases of false charges against community and sectoral leaders, and almost 10,000 internally displaced persons.(davaotoday.com)