“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” – Genesis 9:6
The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao Region cannot express enough its fury over the violence against the national minorities holding a protest action in front of the US Embassy in the morning of October 19.
It is a shame to see Filipino state forces brutally attacking fellow Filipino protesters in defense of a foreign emblem that has for so long been the symbol of oppression for many Filipino communities.
Almost two weeks ago, a group of indigenous individuals from the remote mountain communities in Bukidnon gathered before a bonfire. They were heating water for coffee, readying to embark on a journey to the country’s capital. For the first time they would be gathered with fellow national minorities to form an alliance that would unite them in their defense of their rights – as Indigenous Peoples, as Moros, as humans.
Yesterday, they gathered in front of the Embassy of the United States of America. For sure their hearts were burning with rage, seeing the symbol of the government that had in history pushed them to the margins, stunted their development, and to date continue to trample on peoples’ rights. But they – not even all – only had paint to avenge themselves. Their ancestors for sure had taken more than paint with them when they defended their territories against the American colonizers. But not right now. They were not there to do war. They were there to express in a symbolic manner their outrage over their situation. The response of the Philippine National Police was an arrogant statement against the national minorities. The state forces have tried to push them back – crushed and defenseless.
Not long ago, a number of the Lumad communities engaged with state forces – military units – in their communities in peaceful dialogues. They wanted the military to pull out of their ancestral lands because their presence is hindering the movement of the community members. The military accused the residents of bringing conflict in their own communities and they, benevolent forces, will bring peace to them. The Lumad, whose schools and other public structures were then occupied by the military and whose farms could no longer be accessed without danger, peacefully went down to try to bring their reason to local government units. They can be more civil than the fully armed state forces – be it military or police.
But civil or not, the national minorities will definitely no longer fold up and raise their hands in submission.
God’s work calls for our participation, May the Lord guide our brethren to walk by faith when they experience enduring hardships in this journey towards the fullness of life.
19 October 2016
[PHOTO: Screen grab from the video of Altermidya, a policeman tries to drag an indigenous woman out of a jeepney window by her hair]