DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A group of Lumad leaders “strongly condemned” the motion of the Regional Peace and Order Council 11 seeking to close down the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP)’s Haran compound.
For years, Haran served as a sanctuary of hundreds of Lumad families who were displaced from militarization.
Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanogon, in a statement Friday (Jan. 17), reiterated they sought help from church people and other groups due to threats on their lives and safety.
It criticized the motion filed by Davao Del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib which was approved by the RPOC-11 on Wednesday (Jan 15).
Included in Gov. Jubahib’s resolution is the filing of case versus the support groups, as well as the petition to bring the Lumad evacuees back to their communities.
In his Facebook page, the governor wrote, “cause-oriented groups brought the Lumad from Talaingod and Kapalong from Davao del Norte and other provinces, only to use them for their propaganda.”
But the indigenous peoples group stressed that the church serves as temporary shelter for the evacuees as they continue to demand the government “to stop the militarization and deployment of the paramilitary group Alamara” in their communities.
“This is contrary to what the military has been saying that we were brought out from our communities,” Salugpongan said.
Currently, about 400 evacuees from Talaingod and Kapalong towns in Davao del Norte and Arakan town in North Cotabato are staying in Haran.
Lumads plight worsens
The Salugpongan said Gov. Jubahib’s resolution “worsened” the turmoil that the Lumads have experienced.
“We were already displaced from our ancestral land, our schools were shut down due to false accusations of Esperon, and now they want to close down a church which helped us,” the group said.
From 2017 to 2019, when the entire Mindanao was placed under Martial Law, Lumads were subjected to “escalating attacks” including extrajudicial killings, harassments, and massive displacements according to Indigenous peoples groups and human rights advocates.
In 2015, North Cotabato Congresswoman Nancy Catamco, government and military officials, and members of Alamara tried to pullout the Lumads from Haran but the evacuees refused to go with them. Charges were also filed against several Lumad advocates but were dismissed by the Department of Justice the following year.
Salugpongan has challenged Gov. Jubahib “to better understand the issues of Lumad from the province whose peaceful living were disrupted thus they cannot go back to their communities.”
It said the displaced Lumads are only safe to go back home if the perpetrators of the killing of students Alibando Tingkas and Obello Bay-ao are brought to justice, the CAFGU/Alamara in Talaingod are disarmed and disbanded, the military troops are pulled-out from indigenous communities, the Salugpongan schools are reopened, and sustainable livelihood and other social services for them are provided. (davaotoday.com)