Church leader says gov’t authorities question why they allow IPs stay in Baclaran Church

Nov. 15, 2015

PARAÑAQUE CITY – A church leader has called the government “insensitive” on the plight of the indigenous peoples.

Rector of Our Mother of Perpetual Help National Shrine Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, Fr. Joey Echano, CsSr. said “the government is being insensitive” on the plight of lumads after they were evicted from their previous camp in Liwasang Bonifacio as part of the government’s preparation for the hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

In a press conference Sunday morning, IP leaders along with their support groups from the religious sector, local, and global activists said President Benigno Aquino, III remains insensitive to the Lumad’s issues despite bringing their demands here in the capital.

Fr. Echano also said they were questioned by the authorities why they let the IPs stay in the church grounds in Baclaran.

“The church is a sanctuary [which is] open to those who want to stay, especially to those who are victims of violence and oppression,” Fr. Echano said.

Fr. Echano expressed his solidarity and support to the lumads who “just wished to be able to return to their homes.”

“It is the Lumads who are left unnoticed by the society and their cries are unheard. The government is so insensitive,” he said.

Bai Josephine Pagalan, a Lumad from Bukidnon, thanked the church for giving them a place to stay after they were evicted at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila.

Last Friday, the Lumads together with their support groups packed up after they were given the deadline of the city mayor’s permit.

Since they transferred in Baclaran Church, the delegates of Manilakbayan were blocked by forces of police deployed outside the church for their jeepneys’ “franchise issues.”

Pagalan said they “felt the oppression of state forces from our respective communities in Mindanao.”

“It’s the same oppression here in the Manila,” she said.

Pagalan said they saw “the true face of the state forces who do not protect the Filipinos, but only the foreign mining corporations.”

Pagalan criticized the government’s recent statement that the protesters were “eyesores” to the foreign leaders who will be participating the APEC Summit here.

“In reality, the image of the country is already destroyed and dirty. The government continues to ignore the poor who are living along the streets,” Pagalan said.

Pagalan added that the destruction of the natural resources in Mindanao is because of the government’s policies.

“And those who defend their ancestral lands, which they consider as their paradise, are being attacked,” she said.

Global activists also expressed their solidarity and support to the Lumads in their struggle “for their land, education, and their right to exist.”

International Coordinating Committee of International League of Peoples Struggles, Lyn Meza, said that the Lumads “have existed in their lands for centuries” but “the militarization in Mindanao which is participated by troops from Philippines and the United States caused them to flee their lands.”

“ILPS is for the indigenous peoples [and the] working people in the world. We need to unite against our common enemy which is imperialism,” she said.

Spokesperson of Manilakbayan 2015, Jomorito Goaynon, also expressed his gratitude to the different groups who supported their plight and their calls to end the militarization in their communities and to stop attacks against them.

He said that they will continue to call for support and that they will air their demands to the world leaders during the APEC Summit. (

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