Stop the Militarization and Killing of Indigenous Peoples! End the Injustice, End the Impunity, NOW!
Statement of KATRIBU on the Recent Human Rights Violations against the Lumad Communities
July 4, 2015
We call for the immediate pull-out of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troops from the communities of lumad -indigenous peoples in Mindanao. In recent months, lumad leaders have been killed by the AFP and paramilitary groups or slapped with trumped up criminal charges to bring them to prison. Our community-initiated schools are forced to close down. Our communities are being bombed forcing us to evacuating. Mindanao is no longer a safe haven for the Higaonon, Blaan, Ata, Manobo, and other indigenous peoples (IP) who are merely struggling to survive and develop.
From March to June 2015, six (6) lumad leaders and activists were killed in 4 incidents of extra-judicial killings and 2 massacres. There are at least four groups of evacuees from the provinces of Saranggani, Bukidnon and Davao del Norte, numbering almost a thousand mostly indigenous peoples. They left their homes since May up to the present due to heavy military presence and intense combat operations in their respective communities. Twenty-five (25) community schools were pushed to halt operations for the entire month of June due to harassment by the AFP and the Department of Education (DepEd).
We have witnessed a marked increase in deployment of military troops in Mindanao since 2012. Currently, 55 combat battalions or more than 50% of the AFP forces are deployed in Mindanao. Since then, human rights violation against the lumad communities have risen to alarming proportions.
This government-sanctioned repression and concerted attacks against lumad communities is part of the government's counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which aims to crush the armed revolutionary movement. Instead, Oplan Bayanihan now victimizes civilians, vilifies community schools as rebel schools, and compels the use of communities as military camps and outposts.
Fascist Aquino Regime, Worse than Arroyo
In terms of the numbers of IP victims of extra-judicial killings and forced evacuation due to the military operations and encampment of communities, the past four years of Aquino Regime and its Oplan Bayanihan is even worse than the last 4 years of the Arroyo Regime and the Oplan Bantay Laya II. From 2007 to June 2010, the Arroyo administration committed 33 IP extrajudicial killings and 24 cases of forced evacuation. Under the Aquino administration, from July 2010 until the end of 2014 51 IP leaders were killed and there were 38 cases of forced evacuation.
We expect and dread even worse human rights violations towards the end of the Aquino Regime and the continuation of the Oplan Bayanihan. The Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), a military command operating in Mindanao, is a part of the state’s killing and terror machinery. They earlier announced that they have until 2016 to clear out the Davao and Caraga Regions from the New People’s Army (NPA) and declare the victory of the Oplan Bayanihan. Recently, the EastMinCom was acclaimed by BS Aquino for its “excellence.” They boast of their trophies – the numbers of killed, captured, arrested, and surrendered “NPAs”. But these trophies are not for real as the AFP itself stated that, based on their assessment, they were not able to immobilize NPA units. But one thing is for sure – they have grossly violated the collective rights of the lumad communities.
We reiterate our call for the immediate pull-out the AFP units operating in lumad and peasant communities in Mindanao. We demand justice for all the victims of human rights violations, and to prosecute all the perpetrators of these atrocities. The victims of human rights violations especially those whose properties and sources of livelihood were destroyed during military operations, should be indemnified. The Oplan Bayanihan, the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency program that victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians, must be scrapped. The vilification, labelling, and targeting of civilians and self-help projects as “members of the NPA”, “enemies of the state”, and “NPA projects,” must end. The government must abide by its commitment to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and all the major Human Rights instruments that the government is a party and signatory to.
Finally we call for the scrapping of Oplan Bayanihan and for the ouster of the Aquino regime.
Without justice for our communities who have been victims of grave civil and political rights violation, as well as economic, social and cultural rights violations, there can never be peace in Mindanao. We pledge to continue our historic struggle to defend our ancestral lands, communities and collective rights.
Sign our Petition