February 20, 2015 – More than 300 lumad people from Caraga’s most militarized communities trooped to the regional office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Butuan City to demand the agency’s intervention regarding the alleged abuses of the Philippine Army while conducting military operations within their ancestral lands.

The group staged a two-hour piket-rally cum cultural caravan outside the agency’s office while their leaders simultaneously went in for a dialogue with the agency’s regional officials.

Martial law in rural Caraga

Describing the situation in their communities as “under a state of undeclared martial law”, the group urged the agency to primarily take the lead in dismantling the various paramilitary groups present in the Caraga region as well as to take a hand in solving the plethora of human rights violations which targets lumad communities, organizations and their leaders who are staunch critics of Mining and agri-business corporations encroaching their ancestral domains.

According to Franklin Campos, Kasalo-Caraga Spokesperson “Caraga region has experienced an escalation of human rights violations in the past months. In fact, as of this time 413 families or 1,165 individuals are internally displaced from lumad communities. They are currently cramped in the evacuation centers in Bunawan, Bayugan and San Luis Agusan del Sur.“ These people fled their homes and farms because of the cyclic military operations of the Philippine Army’s nine combat battalions done under the blessing of the BS Aquino regime in line with his Oplan Bayanihan.

“Not only that,” says Franklin, “adding into AFP’s war machine are the Paramilitary groups who are armed by the military.” Provided with technical and logistical support, these groups accompany the military troops in their combat operations. He adds that the names Calpet Egua, Marcos Bocales, Mario Napungahan and Loreto Mayor Dario Otaza who call themselves ‘Bagani’ or ‘Magahat’; Eddie “Komander Bawang” Ampiawan and Benhur Mansulonay’s armed groups turned CAFGU are commonly mentioned by the people when asked who they are running from. Unbounded by any war protocol, these groups commit cold blooded killings and other crimes against the people including the harassments against Lumad school teachers and students. They have also destroyed schools and community socio-economic projects.

To make matters worse, the commission also has a hand in the formation of these paramilitary groups and has in several instances encouraged lumads applying for CADT’s to form armed militias.

In the absence of NCIP-Caraga officer-in-charge Atty. Pinky Grace Pabelic who was absent, NCIP acting regional hearing officer Atty. John E. Luneta, faced the delegation. He was unable to commit to any actions on the issues raised by the representatives of the lumad people, instead assuring them that he will inform NCIP officer-in-charge Pinky Grace Pabalic, who was not in her office, about the issues. He assured them that the commission will provide a formal response within fifteen working days.

The more than 300 indigenous peoples and peasants are part of the Tambuli Tu Kalinow – Kampohan sa Butuan (Call for peace-Butuan Camp-out). Currently camped at the Libertad Sports Complex, they represent lumad organization under Kasalo-Caraga and peasant organizations under KMP-Caraga. The group will be conducting of dialogues with concerned government agencies among other activities highlighting their calls which will culminate in a multi-sectoral rally on February 25, 2015. ##

20,000 signatures to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 sought

Scrap the Mining Act Network led by Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) is gathering 20,000 signatures to sign the petition for the repeal of Republic Act 8371 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

In a forum held Friday in St. Scholastica’s College in Manila, the Scrap the Mining Act Network said that they aim to have 20,000 signatures marking the 20th anniversary of the Mining Act of 1995 in March 3.

The network’s petition urges the Philippine Congress to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and enact a pro-indigenous peoples, pro-environment, and responsible mining bill.

According to Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP spokesperson, the petition highlights the effects of the liberalized mining industry to indigenous peoples.

“The Mining Act of 1995 allowed the complete ownership of mining TNCs of our mineral lands, waters, and resources, among other incentives to attract mining investment. The law is blamed for the continuing desolation of our environment and the violation of indigenous peoples’ rights to land and life,” Malayao said.

Broad network

Scrap the Mining Act Network is a broad campaign network of individuals, institutions and groups from the Church, academe, legislators, lawyers, cause-oriented groups , indigenous peoples rights advocates, environmentalists, journalists, cultural workers and concerned groups who are united and committed to the call to Scrap the Mining Act of 1995.

The petition to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 was launched last June in time with the World Environment Day, at the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran. The first set of petitioners, which included National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, Caloocan City Bishop Deogracias Yñiguez, Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra, actress and women’s rights advocate Monique Wilson, Missionary Benedictine Sisters Prioress Mo. Adelaida Yrugbay, Caloocan Bishop Emeritus Jose Manguiran, Our Mother of Perpetual Help National Shrine (Baclaran church) Rector Fr. Victorino Cueto, and University of the Philippines Student Regent Neill Macuja, was submitted to the House of Representatives last August 12.

A total of 139 petitioners, representing representing 84 organizations, schools, universities, councils, congregation, churches, dioceses signed the petition, Malayao shared.

Sign-up drives are ongoing in University of the Philippines Diliman, University of the Philippines Manila, College of the Holy Spirit Manila, Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, St Louis University in Baguio City, St. Mary’s University of Bayombong in Nueva Vizcaya and the latest in St. Scholastica’s College Manila.
‘Lopsided to mining TNCs’

In the petition, the Scrap the Mining Act Network describe the Mining Act of 1995 as foreign dominated, and not geared towards developing national industries and modernization of agriculture.”

“Incentives and benefits in our mining industry is lopsided in favor of transnational mining corporations, far greater than those of Filipino entrepreneurs,” Malayao added.

Some of the more controversial and criticized provisions in the Mining Act are the following:
1. Up to 100% foreign owned capital and repatriation profit
2. Freedom from requisition of investment and freedom from expropriation
3. Tax exemption for a grace period of 10 years
4. Easement rights, water rights and timber rights
5. Tariff and tax exemption for the materials and supplies imported for their mining operation or exploration and free use of port for 10 years

According to think-tank IBON Foundation, the Philippine mining industry’s contribution is a measly 0.72% to the gross domestic product (GDP). Out of the PhP 1.15 trillon gross production value in mining from 1997 to 2012, the Philippine government only gained PhP 110 billion or less than 10% of the gross value from taxes, fees and royalties. In addition, the mining industry only employs an average of 200,000 workers annually or 0.43% of the total employment in our country, contrary to the government claims that this industry will generate jobs.

“The facts belie the government’s claim that mining is the boost our economy needs. What we truly gain from mining is the plunder of our mineral resources, environmental destruction, and the violation of our people’s rights,” Malayao commented.

According to Malayao, there exist at least 712 approved mining applications covering 967,530.86 hectares of the country’s total land area. Of this, 251 applications covering 532,368.36 hectares (55% of the total land area approved for mining) are areas occupied by indigenous communities.

“The call to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 comes from a spectra of people since its enactment almost twenty years ago. It is high time that this sentiment be harnessed for the creation of a patriotic, pro-indigenous peoples, pro-environment a responsible mining law.

Scrap the Mining Act Network is still gathering signatures for the repeal of the Mining Act in schools, Churches, and other public places. #

Panalangin para sa mga namatay sa Mamasapano, Maguindanao

Sa pangunguna ng Promotion of Church People’s Response
Nag-alay sila ng panalangin para sa hustisya at katotohanan patungkol sa mga biktima ng Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Ginanap ito sa Camp Crame noong Pebrero 3, 2015.


As reports linking US operatives to Mamasapano incident surface

Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate today said that as reports linking US operatives on the botched operation in Mamasapano are surfacing left and right thus it is imperative that a thorough investigation be launched by Congress to get to the truth.

President Aquino’s not admitting until now his responsibility, not telling the whole truth and passing the blame of the most bloody police fiasco to the commander of SAF is unacceptable and reprehensible. It is a vain attempt to hide the whole truth, especially his, Purisima’s and the US’ role in the botched operation to escape accountability.

As it is, newspaper reports say that agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and ranking Filipino police officials planned a secret operation aimed at getting a notorious international terrorist, a source who declined to be identified told the Inquirer.

The source said the target was on Washington’s list of priority terrorists: Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” who had a $5-million price then on his head. The bounty was later raised to $6 million.

Based on the reports, a former ranking police official in Central Mindanao, claimed that during the meeting, which he attended, the FBI agents shared an intelligence report on the exact whereabouts of Marwan and another terrorist, Filipino Abdul Basit Usman.

The source said the Americans were certain about their intelligence data because it was provided by a mole from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“They were paid cash in exchange for the information,” the source said.

The source said the FBI agents validated the information relayed to them by their mole through the use of “drones and global positioning system.“We can even see the hideout of their target,” he said.

During the meeting, it was decided that those involved in the operation would not share information with any other government agencies “to prevent a leak of the plan. They will only coordinate with other government troops—posted along the highway—on their way to their mission,” he added.

“Ito ang nakakalungkot dito ang US ang nagplano at ipinahamak ang mga SAF. Matapos ibala sa kanyon ang mga SAF pa ang may kasalanan sa pagkasawi nila,” said Rep. Colmenares

“This is one of our fears when the Philippines entered the Visiting Forces Agreements (VFA) and now the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) we are dragged into their fights and battle plans under the heading Target of US enemies. Filipinos are the ones dying for the US to get what they want. Worse because we are now seen as part of US military operations against its enemies, we also become a target of attacks by the enemies of the US. This should really be investigated and adds to the numerous reasons why these treaties should be junked,” added Senior Deputy Minority Leader Colmenares.

“Malala pa ay Si Pres. Aquino ay naghuhugas kamay at hindi ipinaliwanag kung bakit di pinaalam ang operasyon sa DILG Secretary at PNP chief. Ito ay patunay na totoo nga na si Gen.Purisima ang nagcommand ng operations.May pananagutan si Pres. Aquino sa ginawa nyang pag utos sa operasyon at pagdefy sa order ng Ombudsman na suspendido si Purisima at sa talumpati pa niya ngayon ay lalo lang nagalit sa kanya ang mga kamag-anak at kaibigan ng mga nasawi maging ang sambayanang Filipino,” he added.

“As for his part Rep. Zarate said that “even as other government agencies will conduct their own probes of the incident, Congress must also conduct a thorough investigation, since it appears that there was breakdown in the established mechanisms agreed upon by the GPH and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as well as to see the veracity of reports that US agents or troops were also in the area after the incident,”

“There are more questions now than when this was exposed. As for example, if SAF commander keep on insisting that Operation Wolverine is very much alike the US operation to get Osama bin Laden then he has already admitted that this botched operation has US backing, support and participation. Another question is how are we certain that the US agents seen in the evacuation of the dead and wounded SAF did not take the supposed body of Marwan or his cut finger for them to test for his DNA? These are just few of the questions that have to be answered for us to get to the truth,” ended Rep. Zarate. ###

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence: Indigenous Women Rise for Justice

Bai Indigenous Women Network (BAI)

Gastambide to Mendiola, Manila
November 27, 2014

“On this day, indigenous women rise for justice. We face the militarization of our communities and suffer from human rights abuses. We are impoverished and made landless because of the plunder of our ancestral lands. These are biggest forms of violence against indigenous women that should be put to an end,” Kakay Tolentino, a member of the Dumagat tribe and the National Coordinator of BAI said.

Solidarity with Mindanao


ILPS-Philippines affiliates join the 2014 Manilakbayan for food and peace in Mindanao at the start of their Mendiola campout towards International Human Rights Day. Indigenous Lumads perform their ritual offering and sharing of blood (“pamaas” in Manobo culture) as a token of solidarity in the struggle against large-scale mining, militarization and human rights violations.