DAVAO CITY – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines pledged to fulfill its promise to support the Lumads on their struggles right after its visit to the camp out in Metro Manila last November.
Atty. Rosario Setias-Reyes, national president of IBP, visited the Lumad evacuation center here in UCCP Haran and said that during the Manilakbayan last month, they have not gotten the documents they asked that are needed to assist the Lumads in filing their case.
During their visit at the Manilakbayan camp last month at Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila, the IBP officers assured the Lumads that they would attend to the complaints and accounts of the victims and survivors of the different cases of human rights affecting Lumads in Mindanao.
On that same day, Reyes called on President Benigno Aquino III “to listen to the Lumads, to stop NPA branding, filing of trumped-up charges, for them to be able go back to their communities peacefully.”
Reyes said that the IBP in Surigao del Sur already assisted Lumad victims on filing complaints against identified suspects in the September 1 killing in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
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Lumad issues pinpoint to the mining operations in Mindanao. Reyes admitted that there are lawyers that would support the companies but, “in Eastern Mindanao Region, we expect a great majority of lawyers [who will support Lumads].”
“We are dead serious in helping,” Reyes said.
The first order of things Reyes and her group will be doing is to conduct dialogues with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of Education, Commission on Human Rights, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, and other government agencies.
“Maybe things weren’t cleared. The tasks were given, but different things happened on the ground, we will see who is accountable,” she said.
During the said press conference, a few hundreds of Lumads already returned to their respective communities, but still leaving majority of the evacuees in the church compound in Haran.
Jhong Monzon, spokesperson of the Pasaka Lumad Confederation said that no one can assure their safety.
“We are still worried, but still we will continue to demand to not allow military encampment on lumad communities which resulted to the series of evacuation from different regions in Mindanao,” he said.
The evacuees in Haran who are residents of San Fernando, Bukidnon returned to their communities when they received the news that the soldiers already left their communities.
But Monzon said, “we know that soldiers are just there surrounding the communities, after weeks or months, they will go back again to encamp the community.”
The Lumads who returned to their respective communities were assisted by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who provided the transportation needs for the evacuees.
Meanwhile, Rius Valle, spokesperson of the Save Our School network in Southern Mindanao provided the data they gathered for this year on the attacks on Lumads and said that the attacks are still continuing.
According to Valle, there are 342 Lumad attacks in Mindanao: 163 from Southern Mindanao Region, 72 from Caraga region, 59 from Northern Mindanao Region, and 48 from Soccsksargen.
Valle said that from September 2014 to September 2015, there are already 95 documented cases of Lumad school attacks which affects 4,200 students from 81 lumad schools in Mindanao.
Valle said that the situation on Lumad school attacks is worsening.
The “continuing military encampment in Lumad communities threatens teachers,” Valle said.
Valle and Monzon said they will continue to demand the government for its military troops to leave the schools in Lumad communities and to disarm paramilitary groups.” (davaotoday.com)