End militarization of indigenous communities! Respect IP’s right to ancestral land and self-determination!
While the third round of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is still on going in Rome, Italy, and the Filipino people are aspiring for a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms (CASER); human rights violations against indigenous communities intensify as big businesses continue to encroach and plunder their ancestral lands alongside the wanton violation of the unilateral ceasefire declared by the Duterte administration.
On January 20, another indigenous leader was killed. by unidentified men believed to be related to the mining operations in their ancestral territories. Earlier, on January 5, Lumad Datu Vennie Diamante was killed in Norala, South Cotabato after opposing the application of an oil palm plantation in their ancestral lands. On October 10, 2016, Jimmy Saypan, a Mansaka and Secretary General of the Compostela Farmers Association, was gunned down by alleged military troops supporting the mining operations in Montevista, Compostela Valley. And just hours before the suspension of the first uniletaral ceasefire of the Duterte’s Administration on July 30, Makenet Gayoran, a pregnant Lumad woman died after the NIPAR paramilitary group strafed a community gathered in a wedding in San Fernando, Bukidnon.
Since July 1, 2016, 12 indigenous peoples were extra-judicially killed and 2 were victims of enforced disappearance. Four of the 12 victims were killed during the times when the ceasefire was in place. These atrocities were committed by elements of the military, paramilitary and private security forces of big businesses aggressively operating ancestral lands.
The communities affected by the continuing military operations, which includes the Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD), have resulted to frustrated killings and extra judicial killings, and an increasing number of cases of threats, harassments, vilification campaigns against indigenous peoples and peasant communities. These operations, now under AFP’s Oplan Kapayapaan, affected indigenous communities in the following provinces: Kalinga; Ifugao; Benguet; Rizal; Davao del Norte; Davao Oriental; Compostela Valley; Bukidnon; Sarangani; Sultan Kudarat; Agusan del Norte; Agusan del Sur; Surigao del Norte; and Surigao del Sur. Most of these started during Aquino’s term and is still being perpetuated under the current administration despite the ceasefire declaration.
This two-faced approach in negotiations should be stopped. Indigenous peoples all over the country are clamoring for the immediate cessation of militarization and plunder of our ancestral lands. We have high hopes for the talks and this should be pursued sincerely by both sides, especially the GRP. By not suspending its military operations and dismantling paramilitary groups, the GRP is only fanning the flames of war. Indigenous peoples prefer peace but we will not back down if this ethnocidal campaign of the government will continue.
The armed conflict will only be resolved if fundamental social and economic reforms are to be implemented. Those include a genuine land reform program; national industrialization; real independent foreign policy; free social services for all; and respect of IP’s right to self-determination. But the Duterte administration has to veer away from the ruling elites’ dictates, punish the peace saboteurs in their ranks, and pursue the genuine interest of the people.
The road to a just and lasting peace should be pursued sincerely, lest suffer the wrath of the people united for genuine change. #
Reference: Pya Macliing Malayao, Secretary General | 09275400839