DAVAO CITY – Bishops of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente from South Central Luzon believed that mining, militarization in Lumad communities and the stalled peace talks between the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines are the reasons why the killings of indigenous peoples in Mindanao continue.
In a press conference Monday at a church compound here, IFI Obispo Maximo (Supreme Bishop) Ephraim Fajutagana said IFI priests in Mindanao are responding to problems besetting the Lumads.
“I am very sad, and [I] condemn the abuses by paramilitary groups and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as these are barbaric and an un-Christian way of treating people,” Fajutagana said.
Criticizing traditional politicians, he said, “most politicians nowadays are saying that they are with the poor, with the children, but what they should have done, especially those in the Senate and Congress is to scrap the Mining Act of 1995.”
Fajutagana said the existing militarization and red tagging of Lumad communities have resulted to the mass evacuation in different areas in Mindanao.
Some 40,000 indigenous peoples in Mindanao have evacuated their communities due to military encampment and rights abuses from the state forces.
Fajutagana said, “it is not only the lumads who are being killed and red-tagged, even the bishops are also being targeted.”
“We only shout for justice and love for the people, and those are the reasons why we are being targeted,” he added.
The IFI said it is has a relief and legal support program for the Lumads in Mindanao called “Kapit Bisig”. It aims to help the IPs by providing medical, food, and legal aid to some lumad leaders who are facing trumped up charges.
IFI priest, Father Jonash Joyohoy, project coordinator, said that it has been a long time that their church has been helping on advancing the rights of the Lumads.
He said that Kapit Bisig is “a way of showing our solidarity with the Lumads.”
Fajutagana said they do not have the financial capability to provide the Lumads all their needs.
He said that they are also inviting other non-government organizations to join in the call to support the IPs.
Fajutagana added they will be having dialogues with the state forces as they continue their callfor the two parties, GPH and NDF, to resume the stalled peace talks. (davaotoday.com)