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1st Manobo in Congress vows to defend Lumad schools, national minorities’ rights over ancestral lands

The member of the 18th Congress who probably has the least formal education took to the floor of the House of Representatives last Monday, July 29, visibly nervous but delivered the most powerful speech of the night nonetheless.

Neophyte representative Eufemia Cullamat of Bayan Muna delivered her first privileged speech, vowed to defend the Lumad schools that are under attack by government forces, and called for the respect of the indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination over their ancestral domains.

Cullamat apologized for what she feared may be mispronounced words, but she soon hit her stride and passionately delivered her seven-page speech.

“I admit I am one of the very few members in this hall who may have only finished elementary education and finds it difficult to understand English words or read them. I am living proof of the government’s failure to provide education for everyone because the nearest school from where I live is 20 kilometers away,” Cullamat said in Filipino.

A member of the Manobo tribe from the mountains of Barangay Diatogon in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, Ka Femia railed against the attacks on Lumad schools she helped build. She recalled how she witnessed the murder of her cousin Dionel Campos, her uncle Datu Jovillo Sinzo, and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development’s (Alcadev’s) executive director Emerito Samarca on September 1, 2015.

“I was shaking, prone on the ground, while the soldiers and the paramilitary peppered us non-stop with bullets. I clearly saw how Dionel was ordered to lie on the ground by a paramilitary. I clearly saw how his brain splattered when he was shot,” Cullamat said.

“I embraced Dionel’s children as they wailed over their father’s lifeless and violated body.  I saw one of our elders, Datu Bello, bludgeoned several times that caused fractures on his legs and arms,” Cullamat added.

She also narrated how she saw Alcadev’s principal Samarca lying in one of the classrooms, his lifeless body bearing signs of torture. “His body was riddled with bullets, full of cigarette burns and his throat slashed,” she narrated.

Cullamat said the massacre was one incident that shows how the government regards the Lumad’s struggle to establish indigenous peoples’ schools.

“What pains me, Mr. Speaker, is that these horrible attacks are still being perpetrated in our schools, against our teachers, against our children. Not only do they destroy our schools, they file trumped-up charges against our teachers and supporters; they also imprison them,” she said.

“They disrespect, they burn the schools we sacrifice so much to put up,” she added, her voice breaking in pent-up rage.

Cullamat raises fist in tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the national minority groups. (Screengrab from HOR live feed)

Cullamat said that for many decades, the national minority had been deprived of basic social services, including education. She said they have been victimized by their lack of education, as well as the difficulty in obtaining them on the flatlands.

But the massacre goes beyond the government’s false accusations that the Lumad schools are disguised New People’s Army (NPA) training and recruitment grounds, Ka Femia said.

“That massacre was clearly meant to intimidate us into allowing coal mining in our ancestral lands. As a paramilitary trooper once said, ‘it would not have happened if we allowed mining,'” she said. But the Lumad of Diatogon have long decided to defend their land from environmental plunder, a decision that has cost them many lives and the existence of their beloved schools.

Cullamat said 15 coal mining, as well as palm oil plantation companies, are salivating over 200,000 hectares inside Lumad-Manobo communities in the Andap Valley Complex in Surigao del Sur.

Still, Cullamat said, they will fight for their schools. She said they persevered in establishing them and succeeded through blood, sweat, and tears and with the help of the church and non-government organizations. The schools taught them to read, write, and count.

“Because of these schools, our children are being educated in ways that are respectful of our traditions, culture, and our need to improve our lives, especially through agriculture so that we may prosper while we protect our ancestral domains for future generations,” she explained.

Cullamat also cited that many graduates of their Lumad schools have gone on to earn college degrees and have gone back to their communities as teachers, agriculturists, health workers and organizers. They have also become trusted advisers to their tribal leaders.

She added that her children studied in the Lumad schools and taught her and other adults in their communities to read and understand Filipino. “My dear colleagues, I now stand before you, speaking in Filipino, because of these Lumad schools,” she said.

The success of the schools in educating the Lumad have made them targets of harassments and attacks, the neophyte legislator said. She cited the recent decision of the Department of Education to suspend the permits of 55 Salugpongan Ta’tanu Igkanugon Learning Center schools in Davao upon the prodding of national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

“Esperon accuses the Salugpungan schools of training Lumad children to become New People’s Army guerrillas and how to shoot or dismantle guns, as he accuses other schools run by the Clans (Center for Lumad Advocacy Networking and Services), Misfi (Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc.), Trifpss (Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur), and Alcadev. All these are lies that are only meant to close down our schools and shut down our national minority organizations,” she cried, her voice rising in anger.

As an indigenous person member of Congress, Cullamat said she must report to Congress that the attacks against the national minority do not only happen in Mindanao. She said the Dumagats who oppose the mega-dam projects in Quezon and the Igorots who with the Chico River Irrigation Pump Project in the Cordilleras are also under attack.

“In spite of all these, the national minority would persevere in defense of our ancestral lands, the source of our life and livelihood,” she vowed.

“We will persevere in defending our schools for the education of our children. We will persevere in our quest for justice for the victims of human rights violations,” she added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Pagpapasara sa 55 Lumad Schools, binatikos

Sumugod sa opisina ng Department of Education (DepEd) Central Office sa Pasig City noong Hulyo 17 ang mga progresibong grupo para batikusin ang desisyon ng ahensiya sa ginawa nitong suspensyon sa 55 kampus ng Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Schools sa Southern Mindanao.

Ayon sa Save Our Schools (SOS) Network, malinaw na hindi suspensyon ang layunin ng DepEd kundi tuluyang pagpapasara sa mga nasabing eskwelahan.

Mababaw umano ang basehan ni DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones na suspensyon at batay lamang sa salaysay ni National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

Dagdag pa ng SOS Network, ginagawang lehitimo lamang ng DepEd ang walang humpay na pag-atake ng AFP sa mga eskwelahan ng Lumad.

Marami na anilang paaralang Lumad ang pwersahang ipinasara ng militar sa mahigit dalawang taon ng martial law sa Mindanao. (Music: News Background Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Seremonya ng Pagtatapos ng Lumad Bakwit School sa UP 2019

Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon, isang Moving Up Ceremony ng Lumad Bakwit School ang ginanap sa University of the Philippines Integrated School Auditorium noong Marso 29, 2019.

Ang natatanging seremonya ay may temang “Lumad Bakwit: Patatagin ang Hanay, Mag-aral at Sumulong, Ipaglaban ang Lupa at Kinabukasan”. Umabot sa 70 estudyanteng Lumad ang pinarangalan kung saan 30 dito ay nagtapos ng junior high school.

Ipinakita nila na purisgido silang makatapos ng pag-aaral at ipaglaban ang kanilang karapatan, lalo na sa pagtatanggol ang kanilang lupang ninuno.

Pinasalamatan nila ang iba’t-ibang mga institusyon, simbahan, unibersidad at paaralan na tumulong sa kanila sa Metro Manila at karatig-probinsya na tumulong upang matagumpay nilang maitawid ang isang academic school year .

Sa kabila ito nang matinding atake sa kanilang paaralan kung saan 85 paaralang Lumad na may halos 3,000 mag-aaral, guro at mga magulang sa iba’t-ibang bahagi ng Mindanao ang pwersahang pinasara ng mga militar at paramilitar dahil sa walang tigil na militarisasyon.

Tumitindi din ang paglabag sa karapatang pantao katulad nang paghuli sa kanilang mga guro, pagpatay sa kanilang mga lider-katutubo at umiiral na Martial Law sa Mindanao. (Bidyo nila: Joseph Cuevas at Maricon Montajes)

Teachers, education workers hold summit

Mahigit-kumulang 150 na guro, non-teaching personnel at instruktor mula sa iba’t ibang SUC’s, pampubliko at pribadong paaralan ang nagtipon-tipon sa Bulwagang Tandang Sora, College of Social Work and community Development, UP Diliman para sa National Education Worker’s Summit 2018 na pinangunahan ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers, All UP Academic Employees Union, Quezon City Public School Teachers Association (QCPSTA), SOS (Save Our Schools) UST Chapter at KMED (Kilos na para sa Makabayang Edukasyon) noong Agosto 15, 2018.

Nilayon ng pagtitipon na ito na pag-isahin ang mga manggagawa sa sektor ng edukasyon upang alamin at talakayin ang kalagayan ng sistema ng edukasyon sa bansa tulad ng usapin ng mababang pasahod, seguridad sa paggawa, kontraktwalisasyon, mababang alokasyon ng badyet para sa edukasyon, programang K-12 at epekto nito sa mga pampubliko at pribadong paaralan.

Naging tungtungan ito upang makabuo ng 18 resolusyon ang mga guro, non-teaching personnel at mga instruktor.Ang mga resolusyon ay idinulog sa ACT Partylist upang maipaabot ang kanilang mga hinaing at pagtibayin pa ang mga labang kasalukuyang iginiggiit at tinutulak na maipasa sa kongreso.

Pangunahin ang mga resolusyon hinggil sa pagpapataas ng sahod, Teachers Protection Bill, pagpapababa ng retiring age, at marami pang iba. (Bidyo ni Maricon Montajes)

 

 

 

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)

Group reports new attacks against Lumad communities, schools

by April Burcer

An indigenous peoples’ organization again called on the Rodrigo Duterte government to stop harassments of Lumads following reports of new attacks on communities in the CARAGA, Socksargen and Southern Mindanao region by the military.

Save our Schools (SOS) spokesperson in Mindanao Rius Valle said 122 Mamanwa Lumad families forcibly evacuated last June 12 after soldiers encamped in their communities and refused entry of a relief and humanitarian service by church organizations.

Three days later, the Salugpongan Community Learning Center of Compostela Valley reported that three Lumad families were summoned to the military camp in Barangay San Miguel, New Bataan and were forced to surrender as members of the New People’s Army.

“There’s at least 80 people who have allegedly surrendered to the military. Those who voluntarily surrendered were threatened that if they don’t sign or surrender on their own, they will be jailed, which is possible because of Martial Law when a warrant of arrest does not necessarily have to be issued. Students are also prevented from going to school,” Valle said in an interview.

Military also encamped near the CLANS Lumad Community School in Sultan Kudarat and were asking for the whereabouts of volunteer teachers, another SOS alert said.

“SOCCSKSARGEN has the most number of closed schools. What the military does is that they go to Lumad schools who are still operating and look for their teachers. It was a coincidence that the teachers were currently processing their Permit to Operate from the Department of Education and the military did not find any teacher present. So they bribed the children with 100 Pesos just know where the teachers are,” Valle narrated.

SOS, teachers and members of the network in General Santos are set to organize a Quick Response Team (QRT) to help threatened Lumad communities.

“We are constantly monitoring everything. We don’t have any updates yet regarding the recent attacks because of poor signal. We’re still waiting for text messages from the teachers, but in SOCCSKSARGEN, we’re coordinating a QRT,” Valle said.

A Lumad’s house occupied by AFP troopers. (SOS photo)

56 down, how many more to go?

According to the SOS, 56 Lumad schools all over Mindanao failed to start their classes this month because of the increasing attacks by the military.

The number is still growing as they are still waiting for reports from schools in Mindanao to confirm if they are still operating or not, Valle said.

“We are still consolidating the numbers because some of the communities can’t be reached. That’s not the final tally because there are still several communities who are yet to send in their reports, including Bukidnon, North Cotabato and Surigao,” he added.

Valle said that for the attacks to end, Duterte must first lift martial law to end in Mindanao.

Valle added that the Lumads are asking the public to support the Lumads’ right to education.

“Let us create activities that would spread awareness about the heightened military attacks on schools in Mindanao,” he added.#

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)

 

Lumad child narrates how her mother saved her

“Nang binaril kami ng tatlong lalaki na naka-motor, tinulak ako ni mama palayo para hindi ako tamaan ng bala,” eight-year old Nene (not her real name) narrated how she survived the gun attack on May 26 at Brgy Salvacion, Trento, Agusan del Sur. (When the three men in motorcycles shot at us, mama pushed me away so I won’t get hit.)

Nene was nonetheless hit on her left shoulder while her mother, Beverly Geronimo, 27, died on the spot from seven gunshot wounds.

‘Soldiers’ kill mother, injure daughter in Agusan ambush

Just a few hours earlier, Nene and Beverly were at Trento town center, buying school supplies for the incoming school year that starts next week. Nene is an incoming grade three student of the Lumad school Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI).

Like most schoolchildren, Nene was excited about the new school year. Her school, as other Lumad schools throughout Mindanao, may have been continuously branded by the military and President Rodrigo Duterte himself as rebel schools, but it was her second home where she learns academics and Lumad culture.

Last May 26, Nene, Beverly and another relative, Lucy, were at Trento’s public market for the school supplies. Along with other items they bought, these were loaded on a “skylab”, a motorcycle fitted with wings to take on more passengers and cargo.

“We already noticed suspicious looking men on board motorcycles at the public market,” Lucy recalled. On their way home, three other riders chased them on the highway and began firing. A happy moment for the child instantly became a nightmare.

Beverly was hit at the back and Nene on the left shoulder. Lucy jumped off from the motorcycle and hid in a nearby canal. She saw the gunmen drive closer to Beverly and pumped more bullets at her.

Nene and her injured shoulder. (SOS photo)

‘Tokhangin namin kayo’

Beverly was a farmer who joined the Tabing Guangan Farmers Association (TAGUAFA) in Trento to protect their community from mining projects. She was a vocal critic of large scale mining companies OZ Metals and Agusan Petroleum.

By becoming an anti-mining activist, Beverly became a target of military harassment in the past nine years, including by the Philippine Army’s 75th, 25th, 67th and 66th infantry battalions that have been rotationally deployed around their community.

Merely two months ago, Beverly and other members of TAGUAFA were labeled by soldiers as “New People’s Army (NPA) surrenderees” in their community, a charge she vehemently denied.

Soldiers nonetheless warned Beverly that should she continue support the NPA they will come back for her. “Tokhangin namin kayo,” one military officer of the Philippine Army’s 25th Infantry Battalion warned her.

Nene recalled soldiers would go to their house to ask where her mother is. “Kapag hinahanap ng mga sundalo si mama, sinasabi ko nalang sa kanila na may pinuntahan siya,” Nene said. (When the soldiers come and asked for my mama, I said she was away.)

But Beverly was not all about her anti-mining and land rights activism. In behalf of Nene, she agreed to be elected as president of the MISFI Academy Parent Teachers and Community Association (PTCA) to become active in Nene’s school, another advocacy that earned the military’s ire.

In the past four years, Lumad school children and parents have been targets of the military’s intensified counter-insurgency campaign, especially those located in communities that resist mining operations. As members of Dibabawon tribe, Beverly enrolled Nene at MISFI that not only offer free tuition but a curriculum that respects Lumad culture.

But the military could not tolerate the insolence of alternative schools that encourages Lumad students to read and write, as well as to love and defend their ancestral lands. The Save Our Schools (SOS) network said that 56 Lumad schools throughout Mindanao have been forcibly closed, 18 schools destroyed and divested of equipment, and more than 2,000 students failed to finish previous schools year due to closure and threats by the military.

“From Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan to the current Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan, there is no let-up in the State’s malicious labelling and targeting of Lumad schools, teachers, students and parents as NPA fronts,” SOS said.

“Children are not even spared. If they themselves are not killed, they have become orphans denied their right to be cared for by their parents,” Salinlahi Alliance for Children secretary general Eule Rico Bonganay added.

SOS spokesperson Rius Valle said Beverly’s murder, as well as the murder of many anti-mining Lumad, is on the hands of the government. He said Duterte’s Martial Law has allowed soldiers to become law all over Mindanao.

“In Mindanao, countless lives have perished in a brutal manner in the hands of military elements,” said Valle. “For the sake of the Lumad children, this bloody campaign has to stop,” Valle said.

Beverly’s coffin. (SOS photo)

Missing her mother

Nene would not be able to attend MISFI’s first school day on Monday. Looking at her mother’s coffin, she said, “Hindi ako makakapasok sa June 4 dahil antayin ko pa si Mama,” Nene said. (I won’t go to school this June 4. I will first wait for mama’s burial.)

At her tender age, Nene is now forced to bury her mother and become one to her younger siblings, ages six and two. Already, she misses her mother. “Mabait si mama at maalaga. Magaling syang magluto ng sinugba,” recalled. (Mama was kind and she took care of us. She prepared grilled food well.)

Suddenly, Nene would have to grow up fast. In her young mind, though, it is clear who martyred her mother. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Soldiers’ kill mother, injure daughter in Agusan ambush

A week before the start of the new school year, a mother and daughter who just bought school supplies were ambushed by suspected elements of the Philippine Army (PA), killing her and injuring the child.

Gunmen, suspected to be members of the PA’s 25th Infantry Battallion operating in Agusan del Sur and Compostela Valley provinces, gunned down Beverly Geronimo, 27, who sustained seven wounds, killing her instantly in Barangay Salvacion, Trento, Agusan del Sur at about noontime Sunday, May 26.

Her eight-year old daughter, an incoming Grade 3 student of the Lumad school Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI), was wounded on her arm.

Geronimo was an active member of the Tabing Guangan Farmers Association (TAGUAFA) and the Parents-Teachers’ Community Association of the MISFI.

The victims as well as two other relatives were on board a motorcycle and on their way home from the town center after buying school supplies for the incoming school year next week.

Two gunmen in civilian clothes stopped them and fired at them, an urgent alert from the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network said.

Since 2009, Geronimo had been harassed, intimidated and coerced by Philippine Army soldiers for her opposition to large scale mining activities by OZ Metals and Agusan Petroleum, SOS said.

MISFI is a network of Lumad Schools suffering attacks from the military that accused them of being symphatetic to the New People’s Army.

Barug Katungod, an alliance of human rights workers in Mindanao, said that as of February 2018, five Lumad have been victims of extra-judicial killings in Mindanao, two coming from Agusan Del Sur.

A total of nine battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are deployed in the Northeastern Mindanao Region.

Due to intense military operations and aerial strikes, about 3,247 individuals have been forced to evacuate, Barug Katungod added.

In Manila, Amihan or the National Federation of Peasant Women, condemned the brutal killing.

Quoting Karapatan data, Amihan said that of the 125 farmer victims of extrajudicial killings under the Rodrigo Duterte government, Geronimo became the 21st peasant women victim.

Five children, five elderly and five farmer couples were included in the list, Amihan added.

The PA has yet to issue a statement about the ambush.# (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Sandugo blames Duterte on death of 19 year old Lumad student

National minority groups camped out at the University of the Philippines in Diliman blamed President Rodrigo Duterte for the death of a Lumad teenager in Davao del Norte Tuesday.

In a press conference on their sixth day in Metro Manila, Sandugo (Movement of Moros and Indigenous Peoples for Self Determination) said the killing of LUmad youth Obillo Bay-ao, 19, by a paramilitary trooper is on Duterte’s hand.

“We mark Obillo Bay-ao’s death with rage. It is another testimony to the mounting crimes of the US-Duterte regime against the national minorities,” Datu Jerome Succor Aba, Suara Bangsamoro chairperson and Sandugo co-chairperson said.

Bay-ao died Tuesday evening at the Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City eight hours after being shot dead by a certain Ben Salangani of the Armed Forces of the Philippines auxiliary group Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit.

The victim was a grade six pupil of Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center in Sitio Dulyan, Brgy. Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao Del Norte.

Sandugo said it holds the Duterte regime accountable for the escalation of attacks against the national minorities as part of its all-out war and counterinsurgency policies and martial law declaration.

“The national minorities—the Moro and indigenous peoples—are the hardest hit by Duterte’s martial law and all-out war,” it said during the press conference.

Sandugo said there are at least 29 documented victims of extrajudicial killings among the national minorities from June 2016 to June 2017, excluding those killed in the Marawi siege.

“Our people are being killed, harassed, and almost wiped out by state attacks,” Sandugo said.

The Sandugo second assembly at the camp out Tuesday indicted the Duterte for “the intensifying fascist attacks against the national minorities and the worsening land-grabbing and plunder of resources in ancestral lands and territories, which may now lead to ethnocide.”

“The President—who earlier recognized and promised to correct the hundreds of years of injustice against  the national minorities—now embodies national oppression, which has caused the injustices to and oppression of the national minorities,” the assembly declaration said.

Some 2,500 national minorities from the Cordilleras, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Mindoro, Quezon, Rizal, Palawan, Panay and the island of Mindanao are in Metro Manila for the assembly and Lakbayan. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Featured image by Alcadev)