International petition calls for the safe return of the Lumad to their communities

August 30, 2016

By Katribu

An international petition that calls on President Rodrigo Duterte to urgently act on the demand for the safe return of the Lumad evacuees to their communities was launched by the Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas (Katribu) in the International Conference on Peoples’ Rights in the Philippines (ICPRP) held last July 23-24, 2016 in Davao City. The petition was signed by more than 150 delegates of the ICPRP from the USA, Canada, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The participants of the concluded ICPRP also united with a resolution to support the call to bring the Lumad bakwit (evacuees) safely back to their communities. The conference participants, who came to the Philippines to foster solidarity with the struggles of the Filipino people, joined solidarity missions in Tandag City, Davao City and Bukidnon where Lumad evacuees are concentrated prior to the conference.

The same petition will be submitted to Police Director General Roland dela Rosa in a proposed dialogue on September 1, the 1st anniversary of the Lianga massacre that forced more than 3000 Lumad out of their communities. The dialogue seeks to urge Gen. dela Rosa to immediately implement the arrest orders issued by the Department of Justice against the perpetrators of the Lianga massacre. The dialogue coincides with the series of picket, dialogue and press conferences of the Lumad Manobo in Tandag City from August 29 to September 1 to demand the immediate pull-out of and return to barracks of the 75th Infantry Battalion and the 402nd Infantry Brigade under Col. Isidro Purisima from their communities, particularly in Han-ayan and KM9 in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

The Lumad bakwit, who have been in Tandag City for almost a year now, plan to go home on September 2 and reclaim their communities contrary to the arrogant declarations made earlier by Col. Purisima that the 402nd IB will “turn over” the areas they now occupy. The Manobo communities expect to rebuild their livelihood, houses and school at once.

The successful resumption of the GPH-NDFP peace talks in Oslo, Norway that seeks to address the roots of the civil war in the country, and the announcement of Pres. Duterte restoring the unilateral ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDFP provides a positive atmosphere for the journey back of the Lumad bakwit to their communities and the hope that future forced evacuations due to militarization are stopped.

Katribu and its international friends will remain watchful until the Lumad bakwit have returned safely home, military troops have pulled out from all Lumad communities, and paramilitary groups who sow fear and division among the Lumad have been disbanded and disarmed. Katribu and its partners from the international community continue the call to end the Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency program, and to stop the extrajudicial killings and human rights violations of indigenous peoples in the Philippines.###