DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Leaders of several iIndigenous peoples groups in Southern Mindanao admonished Congressional aspirant Mocha Uson to discern what she would be saying against the tribes, calling her “attention seeker”.
Datu Kaylo Buntolan of Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon (Unity in Defense of Ancestral Land) came out with the admonition following Uson’s allegation that the group was a front and sympathizer of the Communist Party in Mindanao
He said Uson “does not really know the history of Lumad struggle in Mindanao as she limits her knowledge in the false information she got from the military and disseminate it to the public”.
Uson held a rally inside University of the Philippines- Diliman Campus with a group of individuals who claimed to represent lumad communities in Mindanao.
Datu Kaylo said these individuals whom Mocha said the “true voices of the lumad” are paramilitary group previously tagged in the deaths of Lumad leaders in Surigao. Datu Kaylo identified one of the individuals as Jumar “Marcos” Bocales, leader of the Mahagat-Bagani, an armed group linked to the deaths of the killing of a school director and two lumad leaders in Lianga, Surigao Del Sur. He added that Mahagat-Bagani is in the company of Philippines Army’s 3rd Special Forces Battalion during their operation against New People’s Army rebels.
Datu Kaylo also identified another individual as a member of the Alamara, a paramilitary group operating in the mountains of Talaingod Davao del Norte linked to the death of Grade 7 Salugpungan student Obello Bay-ao, shot dead as he walked home after harvesting his cornfield.
“Mocha Uson knows nothing with our struggle. What she is actually doing is just seeking the attention of the public as she aims for a position in Congress. Everything she does is just serving the interests of the Duterte administration, twisting the truth and promotes lies. She should shut up and do research” says Datu Kaylo.
Datu Kaylo also questioned the credibility of Uson as she claims to be the bearer of lumad voices in the country. This claim he said is “sugar-coated with the fake news” making the public believed that the situation of lumads in Mindanao is good in height of Martial Law implementation.
Uson hosted the rally with tarpaulins and tribal music at the front steps of Quezon Hall after knowing that a group of lumads traveled to Manila. Uson also repeatedly referred to them as “legitimate” lumads comparing to the group who do protest against the government.
Jong Monzon of Pasaka- Lumad Confederation of Southern Mindanao said the recent activities of Uson and “these fake lumad leaders in Manila is part of the administration’s effort to cover up the violations they have committed in Mindanao under Martial Law”.
Monzon said Uson “has no right to say they were communist as thousands of lumads personally experienced the attacks of killings, harassment, and threat”.
“Thousands of them were forced to live their homes Monzon said, in fear that they might be caught up in a fight between soldiers and the New People’s Army,” he said.
“That’s the reality that Uson avoided to face. We will not protest if and only if we live in peace. But in reality, those soldiers whose mandate is to protect civilians are the ones who use their guns against us and even accused us as NPA supporters or members” Monzon said.
Monzon said that the only thing we do is to protect our ancestral lands against the entry of mining and foreign businesses happen to be similar to that of communists but this fight over land makes these minorities vulnerable to being tagged as supposed members of the NPA.
“The challenge here is not to prove our credibility and legality into the public. What we see as a challenge is to how we unite ourselves against the never-ending attacks. As long as we remained victims of human rights violations, we will continue to organize our tribes and protest for our rights. Even if it will cost us lives” said Monzon.(davaotoday.com)