We, from Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization, strongly condemn the series of extra-judicial killings targeting the Lumad people of Mindanao who bravely stood up for the interest of the indigenous communities, and for the defense of the environment and our ancestral lands.
Under ‘Oplan Kapayapaan’, the new counter-insurgency program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), four Lumad leaders were already killed since the start of 2017. Venie Diamante, a T’boli municipal tribal chieftain, was murdered in South Cotabato on January 5. A day after, January 6, Veronico Delamente, a Mamanwa and a member of the Kahugpungan sa Lumadnong Organisasyon (Kasalo) from Caraga region was also killed. In Northern Mindanao, on February 3, Renato Anglao, secretary general of the Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (TINDOGA) of the Manobo Pulangion of Botong, Quezon, Bukidnon, and Matanem Lorendo Pocuan from Sitio Tapayanon, Mangaod, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon were murdered.
We fear that the declaration of an ‘all out-war’ by the Duterte Government against the New People’s Army (NPA), as boasted by the Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the AFP, will be used as a license for the intensification of the killings and violations of the rights of the Lumad.
In our experience, the military operations of the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are bloody and, instead of going after the armed group, primarily target the Lumad who they accuse as supporters of the NPA. The said all-out war will also mean occupation of our territories, the disruption of our livelihood, surveillance and harassments, and many others. We are afraid that this will again lead to mass displacement. We are afraid that cases of massacres such as the Pangantucan Massacre (in Bukidnon) and the Bugna Massacre (Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental), where justice for the victims remain elusive and not a single soldier was held accountable, will again happen.
We abhor the insensitivity of the Local Government Unit of the Province of Bukidnon and the municipality of Quezon. Despite the series of killings, they remained deaf and dumb and never took any investigation on the aforementioned cases.
Both deaths actually undermine the government’s power in the province. The killers of Datu Matanem belong to the paramilitary group whose links in Cabanglasan – the Dela Mance Brothers – already have a standing warrant of arrest. The issue of TINDOGA and the harassment of its members has long been standing, and until now the situation has not been resolved. These are concrete examples of the government’s incompetence to address its constituents’ problems.
But then perhaps it is not a matter of capacity. Rather, we believe that it is a reluctance. Right now, the provincial government seems to be more concerned with the celebration of the ‘Kaamulan’ Festival—parading our kin in traditional garbs and dances to promote the province commercially—instead of seriously finding justice for the murders tormenting our indigenous communities.
We will continue the fight for justice for our beloved Renato Anglao and all the other Lumad leaders who fell in the struggle for the self-determined collective development of our communities. We will continuously fight for a just and lasting peace.
For us Lumad peoples, peace means the right to our ancestral land and to a self-determined development. Peace is definitely not the all out war that we know will just victimize more from our peoples! We call on the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front to resume the peace talks in order to address these issues. We want peace based on justice!
13 February 2017
Datu Jomorito Guaynon
Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization
Mobile number 0935-640-1015
[PHOTO above: Press conference of the members of TINDOGA and the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization this morning in Cagayan de Oro City, together with members of the ‘Higala sa Lumad’ Network and other support groups.]