DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A Lumad group slammed the Armed Forces of the Philippines for its continued offensive operations and encampment in several indigenous communities in the region.
In a statement Thursday, Kerlan Fanagel chairperson of PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao called for a military pull-out and a halt of the military airstrikes.
“For almost a year, we have been waiting for President Duterte’s promise of making the Lumad bakwits return to their homes as part of his promise for change. But until now, Lumad still bear the brunt of military’s ire over the failed ceasefire truce with the NDFP last February,” Fanagel said.
PASAKA’s issued the statement as both the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines signed an agreement to an interim joint ceasefire.
While it welcomed such a development, Pasaka called both Parties to address the increasing human rights violations as a result of President Rodrigo Duterte’s all-out war against communists.
Fanagel said the recent military airstrikes have displaced 5,000 civilians in the areas of Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, and Davao del Norte, and Sarangani provinces.
Hundreds of Lumad from Davao region went to Manila this week to protest the continued military airstrikes and to lobby at the Department of Social Welfare and Development, according to Fanagel.
The Matigsalug ang Manobo tribes of the PASAKA group are holding a camp-out at the DSWD Central Office in Manila to demand comprehensive rehabilitation services to address the needs of their members who have been displaced due to the continuing militarization.
PASAKA told DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo “to help them in addressing their complaints against local DSWD offices and to draw up a comprehensive and sustainable rehabilitation of their communities.”
Specifically, they complained of the region 11 head of the DSWD who have “reduced the amount of relief packs and social services and have required additional papers so that Lumad bakwits can become beneficiaries.”
In response, DSWD in a statement, said that it has “agreed to this and we accept the validity of some of the criticisms they have raised and we are willing to work with them to expedite their requests within the processes of the DSWD.”
“They badly need support so they can meet their daily needs for sustenance. They also need interventions from the government so they can rebuild their communities alternately threatened and attacked by paramilitary and military operations,” Taguiwalo said. (davaotoday.com)