MANILA, Philippines – Farmer leaders from various parts of the country who are joining this year’s Lakbayan of National Minorities have expressed concern over the cases of extrajudicial killings that victimized their leaders and Lumad members in Mindanao.
As Lakbayan delegates staged a rally in front of Camp Aguinaldo of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and at Camp Crame of the Philippine National Police on Thursday, Lumad, Moro and peasant leaders condemned the spate of killings in Mindanao and demanded justice to all the victims of the atrocities done by state forces.
“Extra-judicial killings have intensified. The all-out war of the AFP and the police that is powered up by the imposition of martial law is now focused on peasants and the Lumad people in the country,” said Pedro Arnado of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Southern Mindanao Region.
Arnado said four peasants and one Lumad student were already killed in Southern Mindanao while the Lakbayan is being held here in Manila.
He said Roger Timboco, an active member of a peasant organization was killed by suspected state forces last August 23 in Maco, Compostela Valley province while another member, identified as Lomer Gerodias was also gunned down by suspected state forces on the evening of August 27 in Maragusan town, Compostela Valley.
Last September 2, couple Jezreel and Dalia Arrabis, both members of Farmers’ Association of Davao City were also killed by suspected state forces, he added.
Arnado also cited the recent killing of Lumad student Obillo Bay-ao who was gunned down by alleged members of the paramilitary.
“They (military and police) have too much power that they can now easily kill civilians. Even the family members are afraid to come out and seek justice because of fear,” Arnado said.
Martial law was first imposed by President Duterte in Mindanao last May 23 after militants belonging to Maute group seized Marawi City.
In July this year, the Philippine Congress extended the imposition of martial law in the whole island-region until the end of December 2017.
Lumad, Moro condemn ML
Lumad and Moro delegates have criticized the imposition of martial law and the heightened militarization, particularly in the rural areas.
The Save our School Network on Wednesday condemned the killing of Bay-ao whom they said was only harvesting corn in their farm when approached and deliberately gunned down by state forces.
“Despite the wounds, Obillo managed to run towards their village. His mother immediately rushed him Davao Regional Hospital but due to the fatal gunshot wounds he sustained, he was declared dead at around 9:00 in the evening,” the SOS Network said in a statement.
The killing of Bay-ao also took place after President Duterte extended the declaration of martial law and threatened to bomb
Lumad schools in Mindanao, the group Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concern said in a separate statement on Wednesday.
“Just like what we hinted, the elements of the AFP and its paramilitary groups would capitalize on the statement of President Duterte in perpetrating attacks against schools. Soldiers are highly motivated by Duterte to sow fear and terror among Lumad communities and even learning institutions intended for children,” the group added.
Both SOS Network and Salinlahi called on President Duterte to retract his statement threatening to bomb lumad schools and lift the imposition of martial law in Mindanao.
Igorots condemn Duterte
The tribal Igorots from Northern Luzon also joined this year’s Lakbayan and condemned the continuing attacks on
Lumad and Moro communities in the country.
“We, Igorots, want the AFP and their agents out of our ancestral domain as they are agents of State terrorism and the Oplan Kapayapaan that they bring offers the peace of graves and not the just peace, which we fight for,” the group said in a statement on Wednesday.
The group added that they joined with the other national minority groups in indicting President Duterte as guilty of state terrorism in the form of militarization leading to ethnocide.
It said that attacks in Igorot communities also intensified when the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front was stalled.
“Our village in Malibcong, Abra became a site of implementation of the order to flatten the hills with indiscriminate air strikes burning our forests. In our defense of our ancestral domain, we are being politically persecuted with harassments, illegal arrests and unjust detention, evacuation from our villages and major disruption of our economic activities causing more hunger and denial of government services,” the Igorots said.
It was during the second assembly of Sandugo held at the Kampuhan in UP Diliman on Tuesday
when they indicted President Duterte.
Sandugo is the national alliance of lumad and moro organizations in the country.
The group expressed fear these might lead to genocide.
The indictment came after the determination of the crimes of the Duterte government against the national minorities and the worsening land grabbing and plunder of resources in ancestral lands and territories that may lead to ethnocide, the group said.
In a statement after the assembly, Sandugo declared: “Under the fascist US-Duterte regime, the attacks against the Bangsamoro and the indigenous peoples are most brutal because of its all-out war policy, counter insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan and the US war on terror. The situation worsened in Mindanao when martial law was declared and extended.” (davaotoday.com)