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3 CAFGUs die in Masbate encounter

Three government troopers under the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army were killed in an encounter in Masbate Province Friday morning, a spot report from the Philippine National Police said.

The soldiers figured in a fire fight with suspected members of the New People’s Army at Barangay Mactan, Cawayan town at about 8:30 in the morning that resulted in the deaths of three Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit auxiliary troopers, the police added.

The Masbate Provincial Police Office (MASPPO) said that soldiers of the Philippine Army detachment based in Barangay Del Carmen in Uson town were conducting combat patrol operations when they encountered NPA fighters in the area.

The MASPPO did not reveal the names of the casualties.

The PNP said they have yet to determine if the NPA also suffered casualties.

The Romulo Jallores Command of the NPA in the Bicol Region has yet to issue a statement on the incident. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Esperon’s claim on Joma’s health ‘fake news’–NDFP

The chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines slammed the government’s national security adviser for spreading lies against Prof. Jose Ma. Sison’s heath, saying Hermogenes Esperon Jr. is an active purveyor of fake news.

NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili in a statement said that contrary to the security adviser’s claim that Sison is seriously ill, the group’s chief political consultant is “very well and has fully recovered from his arthritis last year.”

“Look at his face, isn’t he sick? That is expected, but let me not go into details. But he is really ill,” Esperon told reporters in Quezon City Friday, the Philippine Star reported.

Contrary to Esperon’s claim, however, Agcaoili said Sison is up and about, conducting interviews with journalists and many others.

“His mind remains as sharp as ever and his analysis of political situations as incisive, brilliant and comprehensive as before,” Agcaoili said.

Seventy nine year-old Sison had been hospitalized several times since late 2016 due to several health complaints his comrades attributed to advancing age but has been very active lately, granting interviews and issuing statements to both Philippine-based and international journalists.

Lying Esperon

On the other hand, Agcaoili added, Esperon remains a “pathological liar” just as when he dismissed the many cases of extrajudicial killings of activists in 2006 as the doings of “internal purges” in the revolutionary movement.

“His allegation was dismissed by Prof. Philip Alston, then UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, as ‘especially unconvincing’ and the document presented as bearing ‘all the hallmarks of a fabrication and cannot be taken as evidence of anything other than disinformation,’” Agcaoili said.

Alston at the time concluded that “there is no reasonable doubt that the military is responsible for a significant number of the killings and that subsequent evidence points to the continuing nature of that practice.”

Esperon was Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff in 2006.

Agcaoili added that Esperon also lied when he implied that the Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph E. Estrada governments have conspired with the NDFP in attempting to topple the Manila government by signing The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

“Such nonsense!” Agcaoli said.

On the so-called localized peace talks being pushed by the Rodrigo Duterte government, Agcaoili suggested that Esperon read the statements of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the National Operational Command of the New People’s Army, as well as the NDFP territorial units and regional commands rejecting the scheme.

Agcaoili said that Esperon must first know the positions of revolutionary forces on the ground “before he embarks on this road show meant only to line the pockets of bureaucrats, military commanders and faked surrenderers.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Military encampment forces Manobos to evacuate anew

Evacuees were confronted by the 74th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Military operations by the 75th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army drove more than a thousand Manobo Lumad to evacuate anew in Surigao del Sur Province Monday, July 16.

At least 1,607 Manobos from 11 communities of Barangay Diatagon, Lianga town and three communities from Barangay Buhisan, San Agustin town were forced to evacuate due to the encampment of the 75th IBPA in their communities since June 14, 2018, the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network said in an alert.

Alternative multimedia group The Breakaway Media also reported that the evacuees started their march from their communities at six o’clock in the morning and arrived at Barangay Diatogon’s Gymnasium at two o’clock in the afternoon.

A military checkpoint tried to prevent the evacuees from reaching the national highway as well as media workers from covering the evacuation, SOS said.

More than 1,600 Manobo evacuees fill the road to Barangay Diatagon Monday. (SOS Network photo)

In their fourth forced evacuation under the Rodrigo Duterte government, the Manobos complain of human rights abuses by the military, including sexual harassment of women and teenagers.

Lianga Manobos have also evacuated in July and November last year and January this year due to intensified military operations.

The Lumad also complain of forced recruitment of Manobo men to the military’s Civilian Auxiliary Geographical Unit as well as threats, harassments, and intimidation of Lumad school students in Sitio Simowao in Barangay Diatogon.

Among the evacuees are 568 learners of the Tribal Filipino Program in Surigao del Sur and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, award-winning alternative schools for the indigenous Lumad.

The Save Our Schools Network also said the military threatened to file criminal charges against the Lumad leaders if they pushed through with their evacuation.

The Lumad said heavy military presence at the Andap Valley complex is to pave the way for the extraction of coal from their ancestral domain by mining giants Benguet Corp., Great Wall Mining and Abacus Coal.

Andap Valley is said to hold the biggest bulk of coal reserves in the country.

The Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has yet to issue a statement on the incident. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

More than 1,600 Manobo evacuees fill the road to Barangay Diatagon Monday. (The Breakaway Media photo)

Higaonons to Villanueva: ‘We need land, not money’

By LITO RULONA/Mindanao Gold Star Daily

Cagayan de Oro City–TWO indigenes’ organizations over the weekend lashed out at 4th Infantry Division commander Ronald Villanueva in response to his accusation that Higaonon evacuees from Lagonglong town in Misamis Oriental were paid to camp out at the capitol grounds here.

In a statement, the groups Tagtabulon and  Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization described Maj. Gen. Villanueva’s accusation as  “laughable” and “uninformed, brainless, heartless joke that could only come from their worldview that revolves around monetized appreciation of the world.”

“We do not need money. We need our land,” said Tagtabulon spokesperson Sariza Acosta.

The groups said Villanueva’s accusation that the evacuees were paid reflected the view that everything comes with a price and that anyone can become paid mercenaries.

Gen. R. Villanueva of the 4th IDPA. (Mindanao Gold Star Daily photo)

“Simply because money is their motivation for everything doesn’t mean it is also the same for the Lumad,” reads part of the statement signed by Acosta, Tagtabulon chairman Reynaldo Ayuma and Kalumbay chairman Jomorito Goaynon.

They added: “We have been subsistence farmers, taking only from our territories what we need, nothing in excess, nothing for gain. Our principles are based on our harmonious relationship with our environment. We do not depend on anybody because we are able to provide for our families. That is, when we are in our territories, we are able to freely access our resources.”

They said ancestral land was being taken away from the Higaonons in the hinterlands of Misamis Oriental, and “now they charge us of being paid evacuees.”

Tagtabulon and Kalumbay said they now realize that it has become a futile exercise to challenge the government to understand the Higaonon people’s development framework.

“The framework of the military is their high salaries — the bonuses that the government is giving them, the cash incentives given to them every time they are able to report a ‘surrenderer.’ Because they could not encash anything from our member communities, they are attacking us,” the groups added.

“We do not need money to protect our ancestral domains. It is like being paid to protect our lives, our families. It is highly illogical for us. We do not appreciate their logic of cash. And we do not intend to understand it. Our relationship with the land cannot be bought. Our lands are invaluable to us. Our principles come without a price.”

The two organizations said that if the lives of Higaonons “are so cheap that it can be bought with salaries, do not liken us to you. We have no respect for your kind of ‘defenders.’”

Last week, Villanueva said the indigenes were paid and were being exploited by the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army. #

(This article on Mindanao Gold Star Daily is republished by Kodao with permission.)

Lumad schools face harassments as new school year opens

Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) in Talangingod, Davao del Norte said at least five of their campuses have either been occupied or are being harassed by government as the new school year opened today.

“Military troops have occupied our schools and conducted roving operations that hamper our members’ [work for] the start of our preparation since early last week,” Lumad school teacher Joan Esperancilla in a statement said.

At STTICLC’s Tibucag campus in Barangay Dagohoy, about 20 soldiers of the Army’s 51st Infantry Battalion camped inside the school since May 29.

In Sitio KM 30, Barangay Dagohoy, about 25 soldiers in full battle gear had been conducting patrols around the STTICLC school while occupying six houses in the community, Lumad teachers reported.

In Sitio KM 17 also in Barangay Dagohoy, about 23 soldiers camped at the Lumad school but eventually left when confronted by the teacher.

In Sitio Laslasakan, Barangay Palma Gil, more than 40 soldiers had set camp inside the Lumad school campus.

On June 3 in Sitio Nasilaban, also in Barangay Palma Gil, armed soldiers entered the campus and interrupted the students and teachers cleaning the school and asked for the whereabouts of other teachers.

Throughout the week, soldiers put up checkpoints along roads going to the communities targeting Lumad school teachers, STTICLC said.

During the Sitio Nasilaban school’s flag ceremony Monday morning, students noticed a flying machine they suspect is a military drone hovering above them.

Soldiers then arrived and ordered the students to harvest vegetables and bring the produce directly to the nearby military camp, STTILCI said.

STTILCI said the incidents have affected 241 students and 11 teachers in five campuses.

“STTILCI condemns the intimidation of the military and paramilitary forces against our teachers, students and community members in Talaingod, Davao del Norte at the opening of this school year,” the group said.

AFP soldiers occupying a Lumad school. (SOS photo)

New school year, old problems

The Save our Schools (SOS) Network said it is not only the Lumad Schools in Talaingod that face the same old problems.

At the “Bakwit School” in Haran, Davao City, Lumad students from Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte started another school year away from their community.

Lumad schoolteacher Ricky Balilid said they had been teaching the students at the evacuation center since 2015 as the threats from the paramilitary Alamara continue to hound them.

“The Alamara have looked at our school with suspicion that this is a New People’s Army school. And they have intimidated teachers, parents and even students from attending this school,” Balilid said.

Many Lumad schools set up and ran by religious groups or non-government organizations all over Mindanao suffer the same situation, SOS said.

In all, 56 schools have been forcibly closed and 18 others destroyed last school year from military and paramilitary attacks, forcing 2,000 children to stop their schooling.

There had also been 2,300 students and teachers harassed by the paramilitary and soldiers, including incidents of being forced to be included in the fake list of NPA surrenderees, the group said.

“It is sad that, while Lumad schools are helping the government and Department of Education (DepEd) in providing education opportunities for the Lumad children, they are not getting help. Instead, they are getting attacked for helping the Lumads,” SOS spokesperson Rius Valle said.

The SOS said Lumad schools have been partners with the DepEd in implementing Indigenous People’s Education Program (IPED) for the past years.

This is proof that Lumad schools are legitimate and carry DepEd programs that serve to combat illiteracy, Valle said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

The paramilitary versus the Lumad: A history of state-sponsored oppression

On the term paramilitary, the US Defense Department defines it as “forces or groups distinct from the regular armed forces of any country, but resembling them in organization, equipment, training or mission” (US Defense Department, 2010). There are different types of militia groups in the Philippines and they are classified according to the involvement of the central government and the military. “CAFGUs for instance, are embedded in the military hierarchy. CVOs are an unarmed component of the local defense organization but when used as police force multipliers, the CVOs are being armed. The paramilitary groups (sometimes referred to as vigilante groups) are also employed by the government for counter-insurgency work against separatist and communist armed groups” (Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, 2011).

Over several decades, the paramilitary groups in Mindanao have carried out torture, murder, extrajudicial killings, rape, looting of property, forced disappearances, and arson (Human Rights Watch, 2015; Karapatan, 2015; RMP-NMR, 2017). Yet a complete picture of atrocities remains elusive as many abuses go unreported as victims fear retaliation. In the second year of the AFP’s ‘Oplan Bayanihan’, there were 45 extrajudicial killings (EJKs), bringing the death toll to 129 under Aquino administration (RMP-NMR, 2016). Several attacks were directed at Lumad communities and their leaders who took a stand against the entry of large and destructive corporate entities with logging, mining, plantation, and energy interests in their ancestral domains. In a report by the Higala sa Lumad network, 7 out of 37 victims of EJKs are Lumad datus (RMP-NMR, 2016).

Lumad children suffer hardships during evacuations and demolitions, when they are driven from their homes (Vaishnav, 2017). In 2011 alone, 12 children were victims of extrajudicial killings, and at least 3, of frustrated killings—due to indiscriminate firing by soldiers, slay try on an adult companion, or at a violent demolition. Several children were also arrested during violent demolitions or accosted during military operations. At least four children and youths were tagged as “NPA child rebels,” while one was charged with violation to the Human Security. The same Lumad communities are forcibly evacuated in the countryside, as they sought shelter, either from bombings and aerial strikes, or from combat-geared “peace and development teams” and military-sanctioned paramilitary units that swoop down on their communities (Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, 2011). Lumad schools, a target of violent rhetoric and red-tagging by President Duterte who calls these as training ground for NPAs, have also been bombed by both state military and paramilitary groups. That is on top of the murder of Emerito Samarca, executive director of ALCADEV, who was found lifeless in one of the classrooms, hogtied with his throat slit in 2015.

During the Aquino regime, the Philippines was also put to task at the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council, where at least 22 out of 69 countries called attention to the continuing cases of documented extrajudicial killings, disappearances and torture. Several countries called for the prosecution of former military officials and the dismantling of paramilitary groups. Some urged the Philippine government to act on the requests of UN Special Rapporteurs to visit the country, to which the government gave a tentative response, lamely citing lack of funds (Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, 2011).

The perpetrators are identified military units, paramilitary groups formed by or closely linked to the military, and suspected death squads under the AFP’s command. Death squads—motorcycle-riding armed men, whether masked or barefaced—are still being employed to eliminate progressive personalities and suspected rebel supporters (Spear, 2015). Cases of Aquino’s executive order 79 served as marching orders to the Investment Defense Forces—the AFP, the CAFGU, and the paramilitary groups that are accredited as Special Civilian Armed Auxilliary (SCAA)—to clear the mining areas, and remove hindrances such as a resistant populace. In several instances, the military even tried to cover up by claiming that the civilian victims were NPA rebels killed in an encounter with soldiers.

The Murder of Lumad Datus

Over the years, Lumad leaders were recorded to have been killed by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other state agents as a response to the unified campaign of Lumad communities against government atrocities.

On March 5, 2012, Jimmy Liguyon, 37, leader of the Matigsalog tribe and village chair of Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon was shot in front of his house by Alde ‘Butchoy’ Salusad, leader of NIPAR (New Indigenous Peoples’ Army)a paramilitary group. Salusad, accompanied by his men, even declared that he killed Jimmy because he refused to sign a certification for SANMATRIDA, or the San Fernando Matigsalog, Tigwahanon, and Manobo Tribal Datu Association. NIPAR had been terrorizing residents in barangays Dao and Calagangan since the previous year. On August 16, Alde along with soldiers of the 8th IB and the CAFGU, set up four gold processing plants known locally as ‘Bolmellan’. They also cut indigenous trees as materials in constructing tunnels for their mining operation. Prior to that, on August 2, Alde’s father Benjamin ‘Nonong’ Salusad, a CAFGU member, came with 20 of his men and ransacked the tents of Matisalog gold panners in sitio Kiranggol, Dao, looking for gold dust and money. The gold panners returned home sitio Malungon, Calagangan village, but Benjamin Salusad also threatened to kill Datu Malapong Nayan, the tribal chief of the Matisalog in Calagangan, and municipal chair the Lumad group KASILO, which the gold panners belong to (Environmental Justice Atlas, 2012).

Alde Salusad and the NIPAR men had also accosted other residents, taking gold dust and money at gunpoint. They touted their guns around the residents, and even fired shots at children. This has pushed 62 families to leave their villages in late August that year. Some residents went to nearby communities, while others trekked to as far as Quezon, the next town. Those who had no relatives elsewhere went and hid in the forest (Albasin, n.d.). On August 29, the evacuees travelled from Quezon, Bukidnon to the provincial capitol in Malaybalay City where they stayed for a few months only to return again in the next years.

Another tribal leader, Margarito Cabal of Kibawe was shot three times in the chest and once in the back, and was dead on arrival at the hospital. He was known for his firm resistance against the establishment of Hydro-Electric Mega Dam – Pulangui V project of the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (FIBECO) which have eventually affected 22 barangays of Bukidnon and North Cotabato (Lopez, 2012). Ten barangays of Kibawe have been affected, including his home in Barangay Tumaras. He campaigned and organized residents of the affected barangays to oppose the construction of the said dam.

On the same year, several Lumad villages in Agusan del Sur refused to attend an assembly where an agreement that would allow entry of the plantation companies would be signed. The assembly was initiated by Ben Hur Mansulonay, a leader of an indigenous paramilitary group controlled by the AFP in San Luis. Since then, the community’s datu were under threat. Datus Lauron and Lapatis also actively campaigned against the entry of large-scale mining companies in Valencia, Bukidnon. Datu Lapatis also reported several incidents of harassments from NIPAR and the 8th IBPA (RMP-NMR, 2016).

In December 2014, village captain and traditional leader Datu Necasio ‘Angis’ Precioso, Sr. was killed by suspected members of a paramilitary group working with the 26th IBPA in San Luis, Agusan del Sur. Prior to his death, Datu Angis had been in an argument with M/Sgt. Andres Villaganas after the military called for members of the Banwaon community for interrogation. During the interrogation, Villaganas accused them of supporting the New People’s Army. In 2015, Manobo children and their families of Lianga, Surigao del Sur were forcibly taken out of their homes on September 1 by paramilitary group Bagani to witness the point-blank execution of tribal leader Dionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo. Same perpetrators also bound Emerito Samarca or Tay Emok, ALCADEV’s executive director, by the neck and limbs in the faculty room, then stabbed him in the chest and slit his throat open (Capistrano, 2016).

In September 2016, gunmen who are suspected to be part of paramilitary group Alamara killed three tribal leaders in Lianga, Surigao del Sur (Velez, n.d.). The same group was implicated in numerous attacks during the same year, including nine killings in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon.

Paramilitary versus Lumad: Global Patterns

Colombia. The Katio and Chami peoples committed mass suicide between 2003 and 2004. The suicides took place at a time of extreme change, during which mining and logging companies depleted the jungles of animals that the indigenous peoples once hunted, forcing the once-nomadic Embera to form permanent communities. In this particular discussion of large-scale development projects, there was also reference to the impact of large dam projects upon indigenous communities in Colombia (Saab & Taylor, 2008).  Unfortunately, in this case, the human rights violations became so grave as to include forcible removal from homes and lands, destruction of property as well as assassinations and disappearances carried out by paramilitary forces (UNPFII, 2009).

Myanmar. Testimony of abuses by State-controlled military or paramilitary forces has also been repeatedly given. According to information received by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, members of the village of Tagu Seik, near Einme, were tortured and their community ransacked on the basis of purported communications with another armed opposition group (Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, 2011).

Kenya, Guatemala, and Mexico. The general pattern that holds for indigenous women worldwide is their vulnerability to sexual violence. In areas of conflict, indigenous women often fall victims to abuse by members of the military and are subject to sexual enslavement, forced pregnancy, gang-rapes, sexual mutilation and killing. Historically, violence against women was used as a weapon in colonial conquests of indigenous lands, but as recently as the 1980s and 1990s, 1,400 indigenous Samburu women of Kenya were raped by British soldiers stationed on their lands. In the 1980s, indigenous women were targeted for rape as a weapon of war in Guatemala. In the 1990s, indigenous women in Chiapas, Mexico were subject to compulsory servitude in paramilitary camps (UNFPII, 2009).

The rest of Latin America. In 2003, more than 100 indigenous peoples and leaders were murdered and the indigenous community in Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria was forcibly displaced. In the last 15 years, as political violence has escalated, more than 2,660 cases of human rights violations have been reported. Reports confirm that indigenous peoples have been the victims of several massacres perpetrated by paramilitaries, the guerrillas and other armed groups. State-sponsored military activities have included aerial bombing of rural and indigenous communities. Thousands of indigenous peoples have been displaced, resulting in increasing populations of refugees in the neighbouring countries of Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. Refugees have also fled to urban areas within Colombia where malnutrition and deaths due to hunger have been reported. Throughout the country, forced disappearances of indigenous leaders and representatives have been documented, as have reports of mass arbitrary detentions carried out by the military (UNPFII, 2009). #

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SOURCES-

-Albasin, G.C. n.d. Flashback Wednesday: Alde Salusad’s Victims. Cagayan de Oro, Philippines: Mindanao Interfaith Institute on Lumad Studies. Retrieved from http://www.miils.org/type/reports/flashback-wednesday-alde-salusad%E2%80%99s-victims

-Capistrano, Z.I.M.C. 27 January 2016. “Paramilitary Groups to Lumad schools: ‘all teachers, students will be massacred.’ Davao Today. Retrieved from http://davaotoday.com/main/human-rights/paramilitary-group-to-lumad-schools-all-teachers-students-will-be-massacred

-Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. July 2011. Armed Violence in Mindanao: Militia and Private Armies. Geneva, Switzerland: Author.

-Chambers, P. 2012. “A Precarious Path: The Evolution of Civil-Military Relations in the Philippines.” Asian Security 8 (2): 138-163. Retrieved from https://library.xu.edu.phdoi.org/10.1080/14799855.2012.686254

-Defense Department – United States of America. 2010. Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from https://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/new_pubs/jp1_02.pdf.

-Environmental Justice Atlas. 2012. “Illegal Gold Mining and Killing of Anti-Mining Indigenous Leader Jimmy Liguyon, Mindanao, Philippines.” EnvironmentalJusticeAtlas.org. Retrieved from https://ejatlas.org/conflict/illegal-gold-mining-and-killing-of-anti-mining-indigenous-leader-jimmy-liguyon-mindano-philippines

-Karapatan. 2014. Karapatan Year-End Report on the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines. Quezon City, Philippines: Author.

-Human Rights Watch. 23 September 2015. Philippines: Paramilitaries Attack Tribal Villages, Schools. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/09/23/philippines-paramilitaries-attack-tribal-villages-schools

-Lopez, A.D. 21 May 2012. “Stopping a Hydroelectric Dam.” Davao Today. Retrieved from http://davaotoday.com/main/politics/stopping-a-hydroelectric-dam

-RMP-NMR. 2016. Peoples’ Rights in the Peripherals: Lumad Rights in the Last 18 Months of President Aquino III.Iligan City, Philippines: Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region. Retrieved from https://www.rmp-nmr.org.

-RMP-NMR. 2017. State of Unchange: Lumad Rights a Year into the Duterte Administration. Iligan City, Philippines: Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region. Retrieved from https://www.rmp-nmr.org.

-Saab, B.Y. & A.W. Taylor. 2012. “Criminality and Armed Groups: A Comparative Study of FARC and Paramilitary Groups in Colombia.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 32 (6): 455-475. Retrieved from https://library.xu.edu.phhttps://doi.org/10.1080/10576100902892570

-Spear, L. 15 September 2015. “A ‘Civil War’ Is Being Waged Against Indigenous Tribes in the Southern Philippines, Rights Group Says.” Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/4028811/philippines-lumad-mindanao-indigenous-military-war-killings

-UN Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. 2009. State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. New York, NY: Author.

-Vaishnav, P. 2017. “Child Protection and UNICEF’s Communication and Media Strategy: A Conflict-related Study from Mindanao, Philippines.” In Andersen, R. & P.L. de Silva (editors), Routledge Companion to Media and Humanitarian Action. London, UK: Routledge.

-Velez, T. n.d. “Alamara, the Paramilitary Gripping Davao’s Lumad Communities.” Cagayan de Oro, Philippines: Mindanao Interfaith Institute on Lumad Studies. Retrieved from http://www.miils.org/type/reports/alamara-paramilitary-gripping-davaos-lumad-communities

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This article was originally published by the Mindanao Interfaith Institute on Lumad Studies, a part of the Healing the Hurt Project of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region. This project is supported by the European Union.

Views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the RMP-NMR Inc and the “Healing the Hurt” Project partners and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

Lift martial law in Mindanao now, Moro groups urge Duterte

Moro groups called for the immediate lifting of martial law in Mindanao and the pull-out of both Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and United States troops following President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of the liberation of Marawi City after five months of fighting.

In a statement Thursday, Tindeg Ranao and Suara Bangsamoro said they find it ironic that Duterte has already declared the city’s liberation from the Isis-inspired Maute group earlier this week

“Their (AFP and US military) continued presence, legitimized by the imposition of martial law in Mindanao and their so-called role as architects of Marawi’s rehabilitation, conveniently glosses over the myriad of violations that the military itself has perpetrated,” the groups said.

Duterte announced Marawi’s liberation on his seventh visit to the besieged city October 17, three days shy of five months of brutal fighting and aerial bombing.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from the terrorist influence that marks the beginning of rehabilitation,” Duterte told AFP troops Wednesday.

The AFP however said Marawi has yet to be completely cleared of Maute fighters centered on an area less than a hectare in size near Lake Lanao.

National Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana also preempted Duterte Monday, saying there is still no decision on the lifting of martial law.

“We are going to assess the entire situation in Mindanao, and we will make our recommendation to the President in due time,” Lorenzana told reporters.

Tindeg Ranao and Suara Bangsamoro urged for the establishment of an independent body to probe reports of human rights violations in line with the conduct of military operations in Marawi.

The groups said the government should be held responsible for the death and displacement of Marawi residents and the destruction of their communities due to the intensive aerial bombardment.

They added that the rampant divestment and destruction of properties in Marawi, alongside the grave humanitarian situation in evacuation centers should not be dismissed following Duterte’s announcement.

“Tindeg Ranao and Suara Bangsamoro stressed the Duterte regime’s accountability in the destruction of Marawi and the displacement of thousands of its residents,” they said.

The groups said that the policies and actions undertaken by the government have undermined efforts to resolve conflict in Moro areas, and have instead aggravated abuses.

They also warned about further resistance from the Moro people amid Marawi’s destruction and prevailing humanitarian crisis in evacuation centers around the city and in neighboring provinces.

“The Moro people are further pushed to fight against [Duterte’s] fascist policies,” the groups said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Army, police harass Cordillera Day delegates

DELEGATES to the Cordillera Day were held and harassed by Philippine National Police and Philippine Army (PA) troopers, April 23, along the road at Barangay Balantoy, Balbalan, Kalinga province.

The troopers led by a 50th Infantry Battallion-PA 1st Lt. Julius Ian Daclag Maestrado flagged down the convoy of about 13 vehicles saying they were just ensuring peace and security.

Jeepneys and a minibus ferrying Cordillera Day delegates from Ifugao were held while Ifugao Peasant Movement’s Brandon Lee’s personal belonging were searched.

Bayan Muna Representative Karlos Ysagani Zarate was among those held in the checkpoint.

Lee said the soldiers also asked him about Kennedy Bangibang, National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace panel consultant for national minority affairs.

Lee said the soldiers asked for his ID when they found out Bangibang was not among the delegates.

Lt. Maestrado then ordered Lee to alight from the bus, who refused by demanding for a search warrant.

Meastrado showed Lee a text message from an unknown sender ordering the troops to hold the minibus and look for “Fernando Alikes,” “Ka Sarah” and Lee.

“The description of me in the text message—from my hair to my beard and my six-pocket pair of pants—were correct. It was only the color of my shoes the text message had wrong,” Lee said.

Lee suspects the harassment is connected to an incident involving a suspected state intelligence agent just as their convoy left Lagawe, Ifugao yesterday morning.

He said he confronted the suspected agent upon noticing he was taking photos of the delegation during a send off prayer.

Lee said the soldier were in full battle gear with assaults rifles that terrorized women and children of the delegation.

The convoy was allowed to pass through the checkpoint after Lee’s bag was searched.

“We were held for nearly an hour and it was already late in the evening so I finally allowed them to see the contents of my bag, but under protest,” Lee said.

Lee said the soldiers even ordered him to empty his bag.

Lee was among the activists who received death threats and harassed from suspected state security forces in 2015.

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance has condemned the incident yesterday, saying the checkpoint was a violation of human rights and the International Humanitarian Law.

“The state forces did not have any legal basis to conduct the checkpoint and conduct searches of a civilian activity such as the Cordillera Day.  They even claimed to search for armed combatants among the civilian delegation,” CHRA said.

CHRA also commended the delegation for persisting and asserting their rights. # (Kimberlie Olmaya Quitasol / Photo by Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas)

 

AFP soldiers hit Pambansang Lakbayan 2016 with water cannons

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troopers blasted indigenous peoples’ (IP) activists with water cannons at a rally at Camp Aguinaldo last Tuesday, October 18.

After holding a noise barrage against ongoing atrocities by AFP soldiers in their communities nationwide, several IP protesters were targeted with water cannons by camp guards.

The IPs are participants of Manilakbayan 2016 who traveled to Manila from various points across the country to demand justice for the killings and harassment they suffer from AFP elements. (Video and featured image by Divine C. Miranda)

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CONTRIBUTED VIDEO: Fort Magsaysay massacre survivor tells story

FOUR farmers were killed when armed men in camouflaged uniforms and bonnets swooped down at farmers cultivating land inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) in Bgy. San Isidro, Laur, Nueva Ecija midday of September 1, 2016.

Killed were Elejo Barbado, Emerencia dela Rosa, Violeta “Baby” Mercado and Gaudencio Bagalay.

In a condemnation rally in Quezon City last September 6, survivor Helen Madayag recounted the shooting .

FMMR is the biggest military base in the Philippines and among the five base locations offered to the United States military under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Perpetrators of the massacre remain at large.

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