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Lumad leaders tour US in fight vs. NPA

Lumad leaders have submitted documents to the United Nations (UN) in New York City on the alleged atrocities perpetrated by Communist groups against them.

Organized as Indigenous People (IP) ambassadors by the government, lumad leaders aimed to seek justice against the alleged wrongdoings of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Eight IP delegates from Davao and Caraga regions submitted the case against the communist group, citing 17 atrocities, before the UN in New York City.

A peace caravan campaign against the rebels was also staged in the cities of Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

The delegates arrived at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport yesterday morning after the US trip that started last June 28 and ended on July 25. They also staged similar events in Manila in the past weeks.

Those who joined the mission were Datu Joel Unad, tribal elder of the Obu-Manuvu tribe in Marilog District who chairs the Mindanao People’s Council of Elders and Leaders (MIPCEL) and the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Conference for Peace and Development (MIPCPD); Datu Malapandaw, chief of Langilan-Manobo tribe in Davao del Norte; Datu Ramon Bayaan, tribal elder of Obu-Manuvu tribe who is the vice chair of MICPD; Christine Banugan of Mandaya tribe in Davao Oriental; Joel Dahusay of Matigtalomo-Manobo tribe of Sitio Central Baugan, Barangay Palma Gil, Caraga, Davao Oriental; Magdalena Iligan of Manobo tribe in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur; Chiary Balinan of Ata tribe in Davao City and Nestor Apas, chief of Langilan-Manobo tribe in Davao del Norte.

Speaking in yesterday’s press briefing at the airport, Apas said they went the UN to complain on their predicament, as he expressed thanks “to the people who helped in financing the trip.”

Apas said the national government, under President Rodrigo Duterte, “is helping us.”

He said they talked with the UN officers, particularly those in the Human Rights and IP committees, who were not aware on the atrocities of the communist group and their allies in the country.

“We have tried our best (to explain) so that they could understand the real situation of the IPs in Mindanao,” Apas said.

One of the committees, he said, even admitted to give support to a group supportive to the NPA.

Apas said the UN officials assured to look into the complaints.

Unad said justice for them was not clear.

But now, he said, they have the backing of the government with Task Force Gantangan, which aims to give justice for their fallen tribe members.

Loraine Badoy, undersecretary and spokesperson of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), said the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict was formed because President Duterte knew that 60 percent of the NPAs were composed of IPs.

“He has seen that IPs are the victims,” Badoy said in her message. “Our direction now is a whole-of-nation approach to end insurgency and abuses to the Lumad.”

They listed the 17 atrocities committed by communist against the IPs as:
– supplanting our traditional leaders and replacing them with the revolutionary ones;
– murdering almost a thousand IPs who refused to follow them since the 80’s. They cited the 1989 Rano Massacre in Digos, Davao del Sur that killed 39 Lumads and the 2001 murder of Mayor Jose Libayao in Talaingod, Davao del Norte;
– making the ancestral domain as their base and battleground that caught the Lumads in the crossfire;
– collecting revolutionary taxes from our farm produce, livestock, sari-sari store, habal-habal transport, etc.;
– setting up informal schools in the different ancestral domain in Mindanao to radicalize the Lumad children by teaching communism and how to become NPAs by sending them to the NPA units for exposure;
– agitating and deceiving several IP leaders and members with false promises to go on “bakwit” (evacuarte) from the ancestral domain to the town centers or cities like Haran in Davao City and preventing them from going out. They also cited the “Manilakbayan” in which the IP youth and students were forced to join against their culture;
– bringing young Lumad leaders with high IQ in the tertiary school as scholars in school managed by communist organization, thus radicalizing the minds of the Lumad’s future and destroying its culture;
– making some of the IP leaders as head of Organs of Political Power (OPP) Revolutionary Justice System (Kangaroo Court) who will bring down decisions who are the IP leaders and members to be killed;
– converting some of our IP communities as prison/ confinement area of our brethren IPs;
– subverting “bagani,” whose main purpose is to protect the Lumads, as the CPP-NPA-NDF used the name to kill Lumads and attack government forces thus putting entire Lumad communities in bad light;
– occupying the ancestral domain, the private communal property without permission
– removing the Lumads’ rights of suffrage as NPA only allows candidates to enter the ancestral domain if they pay the NPA’s permit to campaign;

– collecting revolutionary taxes from mining and logging companies or similar business in the ancestral domain more than that the IPs should receive royalty, thereby getting most of our rightful share;
– burning construction equipment in the ancestral domain, thereby delaying and even stopping significant infrastructure project of the government and preventing the delivery of goods and services to the far-flung communities;

– organizing the IPs thru deceits and lies to support the NPA and its support groups;
– using the IP communities in ruining the image of the government in the eyes of the world through orchestrating International Solidarity works and projecting lies contrary to the real situation and issues of the country; and

– NPAs recruitment and programs on IP youth (Alternative school) resulting to molestation and sexual exploitation.
Banugan said they previously submitted to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) the issues they raised to UN.

She said UN executives were surprise to note that the issues “because commonly it’s the government, particularly its military, killing and violating the IP rights.”

But in reality, Banugan said, it’s the communist rebels who are killing and violating the Lumads.

She said they are pushing a representation so the truth, not the
fake issues will be delivered to international organizations.

Apas said they are targeting to go to the UN-Human Rights Council in Switzerland later this year as they also aim to cut international organizations from sending financial support to groups identified with the Left.

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