Cunanan’s baptism is a defilement of indigenous culture

Jul. 01, 2008

The PASAKA confederation of Lumad organizations in southern Mindanao decried the baptism of east Mindanao commander major general Armando L. Cunanan led by the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Conference on Peace and Development (MIPCPD) last June 13 as the MIPCPD paid the newly appointed chief a courtesy call.

Traditionally, Lumads would use the rite of baptism to welcome someone into the tribe, an act which many Lumad groups consider tantamount to accepting someone as a blood relation or member of the tribe.

But PASAKA calls it a defilement of the Lumad culture and warned the military that not all Lumads are party to the agreements or negotiations entered into by the MIPCPD.

If the military enters into the picture, the cultural importance of the rite is reduced to a mere military tactic that is an abuse of the hospitality of Lumads and a penetration of the tribe in order to turn Lumads against perceived enemies of state. With this, the MIPCPD has given its bias and loyalty only to the military which is the number one violator of Lumad peoples’ rights, said PASAKA secretary general Kerlan Fanagel.

Fanagel added that the MIPCPD has had a standing memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the eastern Mindanao command since November 28, 2007. Fanagel said this MOU showcases the military’s bastardization of Lumad culture.

Major general Cunanan should keep mind that not all Lumads would fall into their dragnet of terror. Many Lumad groups are being deceived as the MIPCPD and the military promise them development and peace while some are merely held hostage and their lives threatened. Despite this, many Lumad groups have kept their dignity and would rather risk their lives rather than be co-opted by the military’s inhumane practices.

PASAKA condemned the military’s integration of Lumads into its counter-insurgency operations, saying it is a human rights violation that has long been protested by indigenous peoples at the United Nations special rapporteur on indigenous peoples.

Fanagel called for the stop of the recruitment of Lumads into paramilitary groups and the formation of vigilante groups, which he said is a prevalent practice in many Lumad communities.

Last May 8, Joel Unad was shown in local television recruiting Lumads of Laak, Compostela Valley into paramilitary groups. This prompted a negative remark from Laak mayor Rey Navarro himself.

On May 5, in New Bataan, around 250 Lumads were reportedly recruited to join paramilitary groups in a gathering called Kaimunan organized by the Kaimunan Lumad sang Compostela. Residents of New Bataan reported to PASAKA that, before the gathering, the military conducted a ‘pulong-pulong’ or village meeting and threatened the Lumads about the consequences of not attending or of not joining paramilitary groups.

UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples Rodolfo Stavenhagen, after his 2002 visit to the Philippines, recommended that the Philippine government stop the recruitment of indigenous peoples into civilian armies.#

For reference:

Kerlan Fanagel

Secretary General

PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao

Media Desk: 0928-6059209

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