Lakbay Lumad USA: The Continuing Journey of Mindanao’s Indigenous Peoples for Peace with Justice

Stop the Killings - Save Our Schools - Protect Indigenous Life

COMING TO A CITY NEAR YOU
Lakbay Lumad USA: The Continuing Journey of Mindanao’s Indigenous Peoples for Peace with Justice

US Speaking Tour 2016
Washington DC: April 15-18 | Los Angeles: April 19-25 | San Francisco Bay Area: April 26-May 1 | Chicago: May 2-5 | Minneapolis/St. Paul: May 6-8 | Portland, OR: May 9-16 | New York/New Jersey: May 17-23

Meet indigenous Lumad leaders from the Philippines, as they travel across the U.S. to raise awareness about the politically-motivated violence and forcible displacement they are experiencing, and how this repression is linked to U.S. foreign policy and multi-national corporate interests in the region. Learn about the Lumad’s inspiring efforts to stand up for their rights and defend their ancestral land from militarization and corporate greed. Support the Lumad by joining the campaign to Stop the Killings, Save Our Schools, Protect Indigenous Life.

Sponsored by: the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines-US Network | Salupongan International
| United Methodist Women | General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church | Asia Pacific Forum-Church World Service

Co-sponsors and endorsers (partial list): Anakbayan USA | Colloquium of Native American and Indigenous Studies, Northwestern University | Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation | International Public Policy Institute | Kaibigan Filipino Organization | Kapit Bisig Kabataan Network | Kinding Sindaw | Land Is Life | Northwestern University Asian Studies | Oregon Free Trade Coalition I National Association of Filipino American United Methodists | Philippine Solidarity Task Force of the California-Nevada Annual Conference, UMC I Philippine Study Group of Minnesota | Portland Rising Tide | Portland State Kaibigan | Western Methodist Justice Movement | Women for Genuine Security

BACKGROUND
Since 2010, the Philippines’ southern island of Mindanao and its forests, mountains, and agricultural fields have become battlefields, making farmers and indigenous people victims of widespread, intensive military campaigns.

In the 5-1/2 years since President Aquino took office, over 70 indigenous people--mostly Lumad in Mindanao-- have been killed for their courageous stand to defend their ancestral land from economic and ecological plunder. More than 40,000 Lumad have been evacuated and forcibly displaced due to militarization, aimed at clearing the land for mineral and coal mining operations and the expansion of corporate agribusiness and logging operations. Even churches providing sanctuary for those besieged by military violence and indigenous community schools have come under attack through military occupation and the vilification of their leaders.

The reasons behind this campaign of repression against the Lumad are clear. Mindanao is resource rich: the Philippines has the world’s third largest gold deposits, more than half of which are in Mindanao. Over 500,000 hectares of the island is covered by mining concessions, and 700,000 hectares are covered by banana, pineapple, oil palm, and other plantations. Mindanao is also heavily militarized: at least 56% of the Philippine Army forces are deployed in Mindanao, along with paramilitary units under their direction implicated in numerous human rights atrocities. Despite its egregious human rights record, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) currently receives millions of dollars in military aid from the United States.

But the Lumad continue to stand up for their rights. In October 2015, 700 indigenous people from Mindanao traversed more than 1,500 kilometers to bring their cries for justice to the seat of political power in Metro Manila. There they spent one month under the banner of Manilakbayan: Journey of Mindanao from the Margins to the Center, raising public awareness, meeting with government officials, and demonstrating at the headquarters of the corporations plundering their lands.

This coming April-May, we will have the opportunity to meet some of these indigenous community leaders during their historic speaking tour to the United States: “Lakbay Lumad USA: The Continuing Journey of Mindanao’s Indigenous Peoples for Peace with Justice.”

Starting in Washington DC, the Lakbay Lumad tour will bring representatives of various tribes as well as faith-based advocates from coast to coast and through the midwest, to speak on their own behalf about the violence and forcible displacement they are experiencing at the hands of the state. They hope to educate people in the U.S. about the situation of politically motivated repression in the Philippines and its links to U.S. foreign policy in the region, connect with people in the U.S. facing similar struggles, and build solidarity with one another. Ultimately, they hope to inspire individuals and organizations to join them in immediate action to Stop the Killings, Save Our Schools and Protect Indigenous Life, including providing concrete support to Lumad schools and community projects.

We hope you will join us in this rare opportunity to bear witness to the plight and resilience of the Lumad.

For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/LakbayLumadUSA/ 

Haran fire case escalates to UN

by ZEA IO MING C. CAPISTRANO 

2-year-old, Demon Manayab sustained second degree burns on both hands after the fire partially damaged their temporary shelter. (Photo by Ace R. Morandante/davaotoday.com)

2-year-old, Demon Manayab sustained second degree burns on both hands after the fire partially damaged their temporary shelter. (Photo by Ace R. Morandante/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY — Human rights group Karapatan has made a formal complaint to the United Nations (UN) on the burning of makeshift shelters and a church-owned dormitory which housed at least 700 Lumad evacuees.

In their complaint letter addressed to UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Chaloka Beyani, Karapatan said:

“The continuing harassment on the Lumad evacuees seeking refuge at the UCCP Haran, and the insistence of state agencies to force them back to their communities, show a lack of understanding of their plight and a lack of concern for their safety and welfare.”

The letter, dated February 29, 2016, was submitted during the 31st United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Switzerland through Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Palabay, together with Michelle Campos, daughter of slain Lumad leader Dionel Campos, and Karapatan Caraga coordinator Naty Castro were in the said session to raise awareness on the killings and forcible evacuation in the Philippines, including that of indigenous rights defenders and their communities.

“We are submitting this letter of allegation for your consideration and to investigate, make recommendation/s or take any appropriate action/s regarding the human rights violations committed by the Philippine military in the UCCP evacuation center for indigenous people in Davao City, Philippines,” the letter reads.

On February 24, fire gutted the makeshift shelter houses of the Lumad and the dormitory owned by the United Church of Christ in the Philipppines. Five indigenous peoples were hurt during the incident, including small children.

Related story: Calls to investigate Haran fire snowball

The evacuees started to arrive at the UCCP Haran by batches in February 2015. Most them are from Talaingod and Kapalong, Davao del Norte, while a number came from Kitaotao in Bukidnon province. The Lumad fled their communities because of militarization and the harassment from Alamara militia forces occupying their communities. The residents reported that the Alamara are forcibly recruiting them into the paramilitary group.

In Geneva, Palabay said institutions, organizations and individuals from Canada, the Netherlands, Rome, and Australia also condemned the deliberate burning of the Lumad evacuation center and wrote statements and appeals calling on President Benigno Aquino to stop the harassment of Lumad evacuees and to stop military operations in civilian communities.

The United Church of Canada, Netherlands Philippines Solidarity Committee, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines Canada, Sisters of Our Lady of Sion Australia, Consiglio Metropolitano Partecipato Rome, and Palestina nel Cuore Committee of Rome are among the said organizations.

In July 2015, Beyani was in the Philippines for an official visit to investigate the human rights situation of internally displaced persons in typhoon Haiyan-affected communities, as well as those affected by mining activities of multinational corporations.

He also visited the UCCP Haran compound and had a dialogue with tribal leaders who spoke about how their lives have been jeopardized due to military operations in their areas. (davaotoday.com)


Source: http://davaotoday.com/main/human-rights/%E2%80%8Bharan-fire-case-escalates-to-un/

Music in fight for justice

 By CHRISTINE JOICE C. CUDIS

DAVAO. Artists from Manila join the protest in calling for justice against discrimination of lumads in Mindanao.  

DAVAO. Artists from Manila join the protest in calling for justice against discrimination of lumads in Mindanao.

 

AS THE voices of human rights protectors appeared to have gone nowhere and remained to be unheard over years of rallying on the streets and in front of government offices, an organization diverted its strategy to be heard -- this time to a more creative way.

Salupongan International (SI), a solidarity network inspired by the aspirations of the Manobo Talaingod tribe who united their villages to defend their ancestral land and rainforest from being destroyed by corporate loggers decades ago in the Southern Mindanao Region, and Save Our Schools (SOS) Network, a child rights group together with Davao-based, Kilab multimedia, formed another music video dedicated to document the long enduring struggle of indigenous people to defend what was supposed to be their rights.

SI and SOS are hoping to capture the interest of a wider audience inputting light to the situation of the Lumad evacuees who are now taking shelter in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran compound along Father Selga Street.

As part of their objective to provide awareness among those who have not fully grasp the hapless situation of the lumads who were forced to move out from their communities in Talaingod, Kapalong, Davao del Norte and Barangay White Kulaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon, the groups launched on Saturday a simultaneous viewing of their second music video, entitled "Salupongan" which means unity at UCCP Haran and at the University of the Philippines Diliman Film Institute.

SI board member Leah Valle, in an interview, said that the incorporation of arts in their fight for justice plays a vital role for the community's acceptance of the issue. She also added that the support from influential people in different parts of the country gained an impression to the public that whatever they are doing is not any form of rebellion against the government as some people label them as leftists for joining the cause.

"Art is the soul of a human. We may not notice it but we understand better through art, it could be through literary, musical, and performance art. Thus, we are educating people through these music videos which we see as a form of transjournalism. It means it encompasses multiple media in an expansive way; hence, reaching a bigger audience," Valle explained.

Multi-awarded artist Maan Chua also graced the event and shared her songs on the roots and culture of Mindanao, reminding the lumads of their prerogative to till their lands without fear of being attacked by men who want to take them away from their communities rich in mineral resources.

In an interview, Chua said: "When you mix music with social issues, it will live forever and people will know about it. I have the right to write songs about Mindanao because this is where I live, I have the right to tell those who need to listen, what happens here."

Chua is also part of the first music video released by SI, SOS, and Kilab Multimedia with the title, "Mindanaw". It is accessible through YouTube under the Salugpongan International account.
The latest music video is directed by Carlos Siguion Reyna which features over a hundred musicians and actors, including John Arcilla, Aiza Seguerra, Isay Alvarez, Robert Seña, Bayang Barrios, Mae Paner, Christopher de Leon, Edgar Mortiz, Bimbo Cerrudo, CrisVillonco, Lorenz Martinez, Myke Salomon and music groups like Baihana, Patatag, UP Cherubim and Seraphim, Coro de Sta. Cecilia, along with a dozen lumad musicians.

The event is part of the month-long Mindalakbayan for land, environment, and human rights and justice. It will serve as a venue to hear the voices of the Lumad and advocates speak on the current campaign against the intensifying militarization, violations, and killings of Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao.

Fittingly, "Salupongan" music video calls on everyone to come together to defend and uphold the rights, welfare, and future of the Lumads.


Source: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/feature/2016/03/07/music-fight-justice-461097

Salupongan International condemns arson at Lumad refugee sanctuary in Davao City

On February 23rd, Salupongan International was informed that arson was committed on a church compound in Davao City that is serving as a sanctuary for internally displaced indigenous peoples. The fire injured five people, including three children, and destroyed makeshift shelters and personal property.
 
We strongly condemn this atrocious and vicious crime in the strongest terms possible and demand that the perpetrators responsible for these actions be arrested, prosecuted and that justice be restored.
 
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines Haran House in Davao City is a church compound that has served as a refuge for over 700 Lumad people of the Manobo tribe since March 2015. They fled their villages in the mountain range after soldiers and military-backed Alamara militia occupied their communities and harassed civilians, including children and elderly. We find it appalling that the Philippine government has done absolutely nothing to address these incidents, despite a large international outcry.
 
According to reports, at around 2:00am on February 24th, three unidentified men poured gasoline on the canvas roofing of the refugee’s tents and then threw a lighted torch to the area. There were two separate fires on the site at the time, according to reports. The church’s dormitory was also set on fire, causing damage to the church property and destroying personal belongings of sleeping church volunteers. Refugees say that they smelled gasoline around the time of the fire and later found containers of gasoline on the outer areas of the property that did not belong to them.
 
The Lumad people deserve our extreme solidarity and compassion. They are currently fighting to save their land from multi-national large scale mining and logging corporations whose intentions to extract resources from the land would not only continue to displace thousands, but also cause irreversible and severe environmental destruction. The Lumad are fighting to preserve their culture and livelihood in the face of such aggression by these companies and the military-backed militia who violently defend them, specifically the Alamara paramilitary group.
 
SI calls on the international community to keep its focus on the unjust conditions of the indigenous peoples of Mindanao. We need to work together to continue exposing the suffering they are experiencing and support the fight to stop the environmental destruction of their ancestral lands. We must be outspoken against the continued human rights violations of the Lumad. These barbaric atrocities must be stopped and those who have already committed these acts must be held accountable.
 
We are calling on our supporters to provide financial assistance in rebuilding the evacuation center and the immediate needs of the refugees through SI’s BRIDGE Program (Bringing Relief to the Internally Displaced Groups Equitably) on our website.

Salupongan International Voices - Teresita Endosa

VOICES – Teresita Endosa

Please tell us about yourself. Where are you from, age, etc.

My name is Teresita, 23 years old, from Nor Cal, Seattle and NYC. I’m a member of Anakbayan NY and Kinding Sindaw. Filipina-American. This is my first time ever coming home to the Philippines!

What communities have you integrated with?

In November, I was fortunate enough to integrate with the Matigsalug Manobo in Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, as well as Manobo communities from Surigao del Sur. I am still living amongst the Manobo communities from Surigao del Sur. They are member communities of Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sumusunod (MAPASU or “Preserving Struggle for the Next Generation) which is an inter-municipality Lumad-led organization aiming to create economic and food stability programs. I’m writing to you from the bakwit in a Tandag City sports stadium of 26 MAPASU communities totaling about 3,000 individuals.

Although my experiences with the Manobo community in Compostela Valley, especially witnessing militarization and evacuation firsthand, were profound learning experiences, I will focus in this newsletter on my time in the Tandag City bakwit. I arrived here on December 3rd and have twice extended my stay, as I cannot bear to leave the Lumad just yet. I am primarily integrating with staff and students of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) who have continued schooling in the bakwit. ALCADEV is a community based learning center which provides secondary education for Lumad youth. The core subject of this culturally specific curriculum is agriculture and livelihood training to ensure economic empowerment and food security for the communities. I have also learned much about the situation of the Lumad from teachers of the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) which provides primary education for Lumad children. My integration in the last two months has involved many sharing experiences with community leaders, datus, children, parents, youth, students, and teachers. My everyday life in bakwit has allowed me to integrate more naturally with the people and to form genuine relationships.


Why did you want to visit the Lumad communities? What were your expectations and goals?

In college, I studied Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Cultural Anthropology because I was concerned about the obscene impacts that capitalism and globalization have on indigenous communities and communities of color worldwide. After graduating, I moved to NYC where I joined Anakbayan NY through which I learned about the plight of the Lumad. I wanted to integrate with the Lumad in order to learn firsthand about their cultures, history, struggle, strategies of resistance, and their goals for the future. I wanted to visit this bakwit specifically in the hopes of offering moral support to the students and staff of ALCADEV.

Have these expectations been met? Please explain.

Yes! My expectations of what I wanted to learn are exceedingly met, especially the longer I am here. My reflections and responses to the following interview questions will hopefully explain just how.

What are some things you've learned during your integration that may have surprised you?

One of the things that first surprised me was the existence of nationalism in Lumad communities. The Filipino flag flies over the bakwit and the students sing “Lupang Hinirang” in the morning. Not all indigenous communities around the world salute to the flag of the nations they often prefer separation from. Despite the oppression Lumad face from the Philippine government, they identify as Filipino citizens just the same and it is their hope that non-Lumad Filipinos begin to embrace them and recognize them as deserving of the same rights and as valued members of the Philippines.

I am constantly blown away by how genuinely the Lumad children are concerned about the next generation. We often hold this expectation to elders, but for children to be so invested in the well-being of the land and future generation is incredible. In drastic contrast to Western values and socialized ideas of success, the children’s aspirations center on community empowerment, as opposed to individual gain. These principles are inherently embedded in the cultural fabric, but are especially encouraged in the community schools.

I was surprised to see the bakwit’s urban gardens, a refreshing sight in an otherwise dismal, green-less environment. I should not have been surprised though, to find such skillfully tended gardens thriving in an unlikely place. Despite the harsh conditions here like overbearing heat, insufficient water supply, and congested air, the urban gardens of each community including ALCADEV have provided some of the only greens in the evacuees’ diets.

I also should not have been surprised to learn that most locals in Tandag City are aware of the bakwit being here, but are misinformed or totally uninformed about why. A local radio emcee had been slandering the Lumad evacuees, accusing them not only of being a nuisance to the city, but of enjoying evacuation because of the free food. In general, it is overwhelming how much lack of education most Filipinos have about the Lumad, their history, cultures, and current situation. The MAPASU leaders handled the situation like champs, by the way. They invited local media to the bakwit for a press conference where they educated on their reasons for being here and the actual living conditions. Props!

Maybe most surprising has been the attitude of every individual in bakwit. In the U.S., especially NYC, a culture of complaining and self-victimizing is what people feed off and bond over, in my opinion. But amongst Lumad, I have never heard a single complaint and I say this not to diminish or romanticize their suffering or reality of victimization, but to uplift their chosen positivity. They are vocal about the struggles, but are productive and creative at that, when it comes to bettering the conditions in any way they can.

bakwit 2.JPG

Describe the conditions of the people and locations you've visited. What resources are most needed?

There is not enough food. The people are hungry. Illnesses are rampant.  Most meals consist only of rice and occasionally a very small portion of dried fish or a vegetable. The bulad (dried fish), though, is causing many allergic reactions, but the people have no option but to eat it. Occasionally evacuees receive instant noodles which are the culprit of one of the most prominent illnesses here: UTI’s. The children are malnourished and have developed chronic coughs and asthma because of the change in climate and the unclean air. The Lumad are used to cool air and so the intense heat is a challenge. Basic medicines, vitamins, and baby formula are always needed!

There is not enough water. Most days, the public water supply (needed especially for cleaning the public bathroom and washing away waste) runs out first thing in the morning after being rationed amongst families. So, there is not enough to meet all the needs of bathing, drinking, washing clothes, washing dishes, cooking, and bathroom use. The bakwit is overcrowded which makes cooking, sleeping, studying, and teaching very difficult.

The bakwit does not have enough tarps and the ones they do have are wearing. The heavy rainfall collects quickly and evacuees have told me that having to regularly release these puddles so their makeshift balays (homes) don’t collapse is exhausting. The rain also makes for muddy grounds and because they are living on a track-and-field, there is a lack of proper, natural drainage systems which makes it impossible to stay clean. The insufficient supply of soaps and chlorine don’t help either.

The efforts of parents to build classrooms out of limited bamboo supply are impressive, but due to overcrowding, learning is a struggle. The classrooms are very cramped and uncomfortable. Each classroom is only separated by a chalkboard and so the lack of walls makes it difficult to hear the teachers, even when they’re yelling, because 3 or 4 classes are in session at the same time. It is a challenge to keep classrooms clean. The students do not have enough supplies like paper, pencils, pens, and notebooks. Back in the mountains, families are able to buy school supplies by selling excess produce and abaca fibers in town. Here, they are forced to rely completely on donations. The same goes for other needs like baby formula, clothing, and toiletries.

While they’re not the most needed items, small beads for making traditional jewelry and balls to play with bring relief to the evacuees.

Why are the evacuees in their current situation? What are their reasons for evacuating their homes?

The communities in this bakwit were forced to flee their homes on the day of the Lianga Massacre on September 1, 2015. Members of the Magahat-Bagani, a paramilitary group created and paid by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to harass and displace Lumad communities so that the land can be grabbed by mining companies. The paramilitary murdered 3 community leaders: Dionel Campos, chairperson of MAPASU; his cousin and tribal chieftain, Datu Bello Sinzo, and Executive Director of ALCADEV, Emererito Samarca. The community members were forced to watch the shootings of Campos and Sinzo and when Han-Ayan residents returned home, they found the tortured corpse of Samarca and that their cooperative store had burned to the ground. The paramilitary told the people that if they did not flee, they would face the same fate.

Because the MAPASU communities are so strongly organized and empowered and especially because they oppose mining on their ancestral lands, they are strategically targeted by the military through President Aquino’s “Oplan Bayanihan” counter-insurgency program. ALCADEV and TRIFPSS have been deemed terrorist training grounds by the AFP only as an excuse to attack the schools. It is because they teach Lumad youth how to care for and defend the ancestral lands that the government is trying to eliminate them. Oplan Bayanihan claims to have intentions of national peace, meaning the suppression of the resistance of the oppressed masses, the New People’s Army (NPA). However, it is a manipulative and calculated strategy to kill with extrajudicial force, displace, and attempt to weaken the Lumad resistance.

The communities here have not returned home since September 1st because the military is still occupying their land, mining companies are beginning to set up their machinery, and the paramilitary murders are still free.


What makes it possible for the Lumad to press on despite their plight?

The strength in unity! Just in speaking about surviving the struggles of bakwit, within communities and between different communities, collectivity is tight, efficient, and uplifting. The bakwit is incredibly organized, another factor that surprised me. Just like in their communities in the mountains, everyone has a role, responsibilities that contribute to the collective, which not only keeps evacuees occupied, but helps build relationships. Holding cultural programs and having visitors also boosts morale within the bakwit.

In speaking about how the Lumads here are able to continue the struggle for self-determination despite the traumas and atrocities they’ve been forced to undergo, I would like to quote the Lumad individuals who I asked this same question to yesterday, since they can speak for themselves better than I should try to.

“Dili ko magsurrender kay para makabot ang hustisya.” - An ALCADEV student

Translation: I don’t want to surrender so that we can achieve justice.

“We will not give up because we are very organized and the leaders always think about the future and what will happen to their kids. They know that what they do is necessary, and if they don’t, who will? So, they need to stay strong.” - A teacher and graduate of ALCADEV

Genuine love of the land and one’s tribe is what drives them to choose hope, to choose resistance every day in evacuation. They miss their farms and schools so deeply and long to return home. But until they are assured safety and peace, they cannot leave the bakwit.

How can the international community help? 

DONATE.

Donation money almost always goes to feeding the people first! But things like school supplies and toiletries can also be sent here too of course. If you would like to donate, please contact:

Maricres Pagaran, Officer in Charge at ALCADEV at alcadev_als2004@yahoo.com.ph for information on how to do so.

You can also contact me at lualhatimalayalualhati@gmail.com with inquiries.

EDUCATE YOURSELF.

Keep up with updates from MAPASU, Save Our Schools Network, Karapatan, and Caraga Watch. Also follow bakwit updates on the Facebook page of “ALCADEV Lumad Caraga Region”. Even when the communities do return home, they will be in need of urgent assistance. Their farms, schools, and homes have been destroyed by the military. Monetary, material, and moral support will be crucial to #helprebuildLumadschoolsandcommunities.

 ADVOCATE.

 Recommended actions from Karapatan:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling on the BS Aquino government to:

1.    Immediately pull-out the 36th, 75th IB-PA and Special Forces from the Lumad community and dismantle the paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani Force.  

2.    Create an independent body to investigate on the killings and other human rights violations perpetrated by the 36th and 75th IB-PA and its paramilitary forces, the Magahat/Bagani Force.

3.    Persecute the perpetrators of the extrajudicial killing and other human rights violations committed against the residents of Han-ayan and Km. 16 in Bgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

4.    To withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which continues to victimize innocent and unarmed civilians.

5.    Remind the Philippine government that it is bound to observe, promote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as it is a signatory to and a party to all the major Human Rights instruments.

 We also call on all human rights advocates to extend humanitarian support to the 2,000 evacuees who are now in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.  

 You may send your communications to:

 1. H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III

President of the Republic of the Philippines

Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila Philippines

Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80

Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968

E-mail: op@president.gov.ph

2. Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin

Secretary, Department of National Defense

Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City

Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488

Fax:+63(2) 911 6213

Email: osnd@philonline.com

3. Atty. Leila De Lima

Secretary, Department of Justice Philippines

Padre Faura St., Manila, Philippines

Direct Line 521-1908

Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.211/214

Fax: (+632) 523-9548

Email:  lmdelima@doj.gov.ph, lmdelima.doj@gmail.com, lmdelima.doj2@gmail.com

4. Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon

Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights

SAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

Voice: (+632) 928-5655, (+632) 926-6188

Fax: (+632) 929 0102

E-mail: comsec@chr.gov.ph

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below:

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central,
Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org; karapatan@karapatan.org
Website: www.karapatan.org

PROPAGANDA & ACTION.

Find a Filipino organization in your area if you aren’t already a member of one. See what work they’re doing for the #StopLumadkillings and #SaveOurSchools campaign and ask how you can participate! Join protests and public actions. Hold community “situationers” and educational discussions about the Lumad plight. If you have access to media, Prop for the Lumad! Express your objection to the displacement and killings of Lumad at Philippine consulates and embassies especially.

Even social media is a useful propaganda tool. Inform others about the situation and assert your solidarity with Lumad #standfortheLumad. Pressure the Aquino regime to #endOplanBayanihan, #disbandparamilitarygroups, #bringtheLumadhome, #scrapMiningActof1995, #scrapDepEdMemo221.

 What role does education play for these communities?

The schools are the heart, the glue, the foundation of the communities, even in bakwit. In addition to providing necessary skills of literacy, agriculture, languages, mathematics, science, and history, the schools are sources of joy, cultural integrity, and hope for the future. The academic knowledge prevents a generation of Lumad from being deceived by the government into signing away land titles. The keen understanding the children have of the political and economic systems oppressing them are astounding. Because ALCADEV and TRIFPSS integrate this education into the curriculum of every subject, the children are well prepared to defend their rights.

The sustainable agriculture as well as values education create a lasting bond between Lumad children and their land and communities, which are inextricably tied to one another. They allow children to be empowered by their cultures and instill great pride in each individual of their Lumad identity. You’ll often hear a graduate say, “I’m a proud product of ALCADEV.” It is difficult for me to imagine any of these students growing up, rejecting their Lumad identity and culture, and turning on their communities for money, as has tragically happened to those Lumad bought out by the AFP to join paramilitaries. Not to mention, the knowledge the students have of sustainable agricultural practices creates food security for not only themselves, but their entire communities as well as future generations. The livelihood education teaches Lumad how to be self-sufficient. I am still amazed by how disciplined the students are when it comes to cooking, cleaning, and tending to their garden. The self-sufficiency training also involves practices of income generation, such as wood-carving, beads-making, dress-making, and other crafts.

The TRIFPSS and ALCADEV teachers, almost all in their 20s, have become my good friends, so familiar to me. But, they are also heroes, true role models, and I am in awe of their commitment. It is the vision of the schools that its graduates will continue their educations through college, but for the purpose of returning to their communities to serve as a teacher or organizer. Some of the teachers in this bakwit are from campuses outside the area that evacuated, but classes were suspended there as well. They joined the bakwit voluntarily to continue to support the people. The teachers who witnessed the Lianga massacre stay strong and continue to work tirelessly to maintain a sense of normalcy for the students and their parents. They emit such positivity and it is infectious.

It is because of the courage, selflessness, and ingenuity of the Lumad students that mining companies and the military feel their imperial interests are threatened and why they are facing such obscene violence. But, it is because of the courage, selflessness, and ingenuity of the Lumad students that I believe the Lumad will win this fight for their ancestral domain. They will need international support to achieve justice and peace now and for the next generation. I #standfortheLumad, do you?

 

Tribal Child Shot Dead in Mindanao

A child from a tribal community in Mindanao lights a candle during a protest in Manila last November. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

Tribal child shot dead in Mindanao

Teen becomes latest victim in spate of indigenous people killings in Mindanao

Mark Saludes, Manila | January 18, 2016

A 15-year-old member of the Manobo tribe has been shot dead in the southern Philippine province of Davao del Norte.

Alibando Tingkas was shot on Jan. 17, becoming the latest victim in a spate of killings of indigenous people in the southern region of Mindanao in recent months.

According to the human rights group Karapatan, 28 children, 12 of them tribal children, have been killed since 2010 when the government started to intensify military operations in areas suspected to be lairs of communist rebels.

Figures detailing the exact number of killings of indigenous peoples over the last few months are sketchy but rights groups claim more than 140 people have been killed since the current government came to power.

Tingkas, a third grade pupil at the Salupongan Ta 'Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center in the village of Talaingod, was walking with two friends when they encountered members of the Alamara, a paramilitary group in the area.

The Commission on Indigenous Peoples of the bishops' conference has called for an immediate investigation.

"We are saddened by this unfortunate event and [the commission] extends its condolences to the family of the victim," said Tony Abuso, coordinator of the church body.

"We should uphold the rights and dignity of every human being especially those of indigenous peoples," Abuso told ucanews.com.

Abuso's sentiments were echoed by the Redemptorists who helped fund the building of the Salugpongan Ta 'Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center in 2013 as part of the congregation's mission to help promote the basic rights of tribal people through education.

"We are dismayed by the recent events especially since the victim was a student of the school that we built," said Redemptorist Father Carlos Ronquillo.

Ronquillo said the recent killing is aimed at creating "an atmosphere of fear to stop the school from educating the marginalized Manobo community."

"The killing of Tingkas should be solved in the soonest possible time," the priest said.

Carlos Conde, Human Rights Watch researcher in the Philippines, said this is not the first time that tribal children have been harmed or killed by paramilitary groups.

"This underscores the need for the Philippine government to investigate thoroughly and independently these incidents and hold the perpetrators accountable," said Conde.

He said violence against tribal people in Mindanao has gone on long enough and "the government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the abuses of paramilitary groups."

Rius Valle, spokesman for the Save Our Schools Network, an organization helping to educate tribal children, expressed fear that the incident will cause renewed evacuation of tribal communities.

Some 700 villagers have not returned to Talaingod after fleeing their homes last year for fear of harassment by paramilitary groups.


International Solidarity Mission

A short highlight video from our International Solidarity Mission earlier this month. Salugpongan International, Kapit Bisig Kabataan Network and the Save Our Schools Network hosted both international and local participants in a community exposure and fact finding mission in Talaingod, Davao Del Norte. Daghang salamat to the Salupongan School and the community for welcoming and hosting us. Looking forward to continue building both local and global support for our fellow Lumad brothers and sisters.

Rapper BLKD dedicates first performance in Davao City to Lumad children

By ZEA IO MING C. CAPISTRANO via DavaoToday

DAVAO CITY – Twenty six year-old rapper BLKD performed in a bar here Monday night for a benefit show for the schooling of indigenous people (IP) children.

In an interview with Davao Today, BLKD said this would be his first performance in the city.

BLKD, who organizes the annual rap battle league Flip Top battles in Davao with fellow rapper Anygma, said Flip Top Battles are more on exhibition matches and showing of skills of rappers.

“Pero yung career naman ng isang rapper ay yung paglikha ng kanyang musika at yung pagpopularisa ng kanyang mensahe (But the career of a rapper is making music and popularizing his message through it),” said BLKD.

BLKD said the main organizer of the event, Pele Navarro, was his mentor.

He said Navarro invited him to perform for the lumads (Mindanao IPs) and he didn’t hesitate to come.

“Siyempre mentor ko yan tsaka nakikiisa naman talaga tayo sa laban para sa karapatang pantao ng mga lumad (He was my mentor and we are in solidarity with the struggle for the human rights of the lumads),” he said.

Hundreds of youth flocked the Reggae Grill here on Monday night for the benefit concert.

Guests were not asked to pay entrance fee but donations such as school supplies and books were requested.

Local bands including Nairud sa Wabad, Kamaggong, Lost Tribe, Tortang Talong, South Breed and Kuntaw also performed.

BLKD, who also identifies himself as an activist, said his “serious rapping” is as young as Flip Top in the Philippines at five years.

BLKD told Davao Today that he joined a documentation team and listened to the stories of IP evacuees who are recently housed inside the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Haran compound.

“We visited them and documented their situation,” he said.

BLKD said he is not keen to details of the issue of the indigenous people but said the issue “made a mark among the netizens”.

He said he was shown where the commotion between the evacuees and the policemen happened last July 13.

“Parang lalong mas napalapit yung puso mo dun sa pinaglalaban mo kasi parang kelan lang pala yun tapos makikita mo yung mga bata, mga matatanda hirap sa sitwasyon nila (Your heart grows closer to what you are fighting for knowing that what took place happened recently and you see the children and the old who are having a difficult situation there),” he said.

Asked if he can comment about recent news that the IPs inside the church’s compound were “manipulated”, BLKD said he did not see them as such.

“Sa karanasan ko sa kanila, sa pakikisalamuha ko, hindi ko nakita na sila ay ginagamit (Based on my experiences and my encounters with them, I don’t see that they are being manipulated),” he said.

“Hindi logical yung ganung claim. Aminin na nating hindi komportable ang setting sa evacuation center kahit kanino, so hindi ka mag sa-sacrifice ng buong buhay mo, ng pang-araw araw mo, para lang sa mga imbento o na maging sunud-sunuran ka lang (It is illogical. Let’s admit that the situation inside an evacuation center is not comfortable for anyone. So you will not sacrifice your whole life, your daily life for the sake of make-up stories),” he said.

BLKD also said the claim is an “insult to IPs”.

“Ano bang tingin natin sa kanilang talino at pagpapasya? Offensive siya in many levels (How do we see their intelligence and their capacity to decide? It is offensive in many levels),” he said.

He said his name as a rapper, “has no deeper meaning” other than he loves how it sounds.

Balakid is a Filipino word for obstacle, but there seems to be no hindrance for BLKD’s passion to use music to forward his advocacies, including the rights of the indigenous peoples (IPs). (davaotoday.com)