“BSA, how many Lumads have you killed today?”

September 10, 2015

By Migrante International

Migrante International adds its voice to the outrage and public furor against Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino’s nonchalance and “double-speak” amidst the outrage and public furor on the spate of extrajudicial killings targeting Lumads in Mindanao.

In a conference with journalists and editors of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the president was quoted saying that “there is no government policy to kill Lumads”, in light of allegations that the military and AFP-baked paramilitary groups were involved in the killings. In the same breath he said that “(T)here is a campaign to go after everybody who commits crimes, regardless of who they are”.

Migrante International finds Pres. Aquino’s statements atrocious, blatantly unsympathetic and dangerously double-edged. There is a very obvious Marcosian campaign by the government to annihilate Lumads and the people of Mindanao who have been very vocal against rampant military abuses and government-backed large-scale mining operations that have caused the massive displacement of tribal communities from their ancestral domains.

According to Karapatan, at least nine Lumads and an advocate of indigenous people’s rights were killed between August to September 9, 2015. On August 18, AFP soldiers allegedly massacred a Lumad family, among them children aged 13 and 17, in Bukidnon. Since May, hundreds of Lumads have taken refuge in a church’s evacuation camp in Davao City after the military occupied and ransacked their communities as part of an ongoing offensive against the New People’s Army (NPA).

The latest most gruesome atrocity was the killing of Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo and ALCADEV Lumad school Executive Director Emerito Samarca on September 1. They were killed by the AFP-backed Magahat/Bagani/Marcos Bocales paramilitary group in broad daylight, allegedly under the command of the 36th IBPA, the 75th IBPA and 1st Special Forces Battalion.

Lumad schools all over Mindanao have long been under attack. Based on reports submitted by alternative school institutions and indigenous peoples organizations to the United Nations and other rights groups, perpetrators are elements of the AFP and its mercenaries such as the CAFGU and ALAMARA. The AFP, some local government officials and the Aquino government have vilified these schools as alleged training grounds of the NPA. As a result, at least 3,000 students and teachers have been displaced and forced to stop operations since the first quarter of 2015. The military’s attack on ALCADEV school in Han-ayan, Lianga, Surigao del Sur is by far the most vicious and evil attack on Lumad schools.

President Aquino cannot deny these killings, or simply brush them off and pretend that they did not happen. Our Lumad brothers and sisters, Lumad children, are dying by the day while the perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity. Aquino’s double-speak can only mean that the killings will continue. There is an apparent undeclared “open season” on Lumads and the Aquino government is hell-bent on justifying human rights violations on grounds that military’s targets are criminals or “enemies of the state”.

Migrante International calls on all freedom-loving Filipinos all over the world to stand for Lumads. We call for international solidarity to strongly call for a stop to the killings and an end to the state policy that gives these merciless hunters license to kill.

Migrante International, together with all its chapters, members, networks and advocates around the world, stands with the Lumads. An injustice against the Lumads is an injustice against the Filipino people. #StopLumadKillings #EndImpunity

Reference: Mic Catuira, Deputy Secretary-General, 0943-4968763