Breaking the silence, Maranao evacuees to bring to Manila their stories of terror

Maranao evacuees and survivors of the Marawi Crisis will bring into the national capital their stories of displacement and the intensifying violations of their rights under Martial law in Mindanao.

About a hundred of Maranao leaders under the Marawi survivors’ group, Tindeg Ranao, join the Lumad in the “Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya Para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Kapayapaan” that took off 3PM today at the Press Freedom Park in Cagayan de Oro City.

“Our kin have been tortured and killed. Others have just disappeared. And we continue to confront threats, harassment and intimidation in the evacuation centers,” said Asliah Ampuan of Tindeg Ranao. “We have seen the futility of our silence.”

The gravity of the impact of the war in Marawi and the declaration of Martial Law to the rights of the Maranaos were exposed in the report of the second National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission. The report said that in several cases documented, suspicion was enough to put a Maranao’s life in danger.

The said report highlighted the cases of the arrest and disappearance of a mechanic who had become the leader of one group of evacuees in Saguiaran town of Lanao del Sur, and the arrest, detention and torture of a 36-year old man and his two sons. The latter were tightly handcuffed, their hands dripped with candle wax to force them to admit that they were members of the terrorist group ISIS but were released after a week when their names were cleared.

"What used to be homes and business stalls for Maranaos have been reduced to smoke and rubble due to the military's nonstop pounding of Marawi with bombs and artillery. We demand an immediate end to the war, and we are taking this demand straight to Manila," Ampuan furthered.

Killings in Lumad communities, militarization, paramilitarism and displacement

On the other hand, more than 200 Lumad from militarized communities will also frontline the Lakbayan contingents from Northern Mindanao.

They are protesting the issues of non-stop extra-judicial killings targeting Lumad leaders and community members defying agribusiness plantations and other plunder projects encroaching on indigenous territories. Among other issues linked to killings are the state-backed paramilitarism and the displacement of indigenous communities.

Bae Jocelyn Agdahan of the Lumad group TINDOGA (Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association) of Quezon, Bukidnon joined the Lakbayan to press for justice for the death of their community leader Renato Anglao. Anglao led his community in reclaiming their ancestral lands from a local politician who is a known pineapple contract grower for Del Monte Philippines Inc. Anglao is one of the leaders of the same Lakbayan in 2016 before he was extra-judicially killed on February 3 this year.

“We are being killed, our ancestral lands robbed, our culture continuously bastardized, and we cannot just keep silent. We will go to Manila to register our legitimate demands as discriminated peoples, and to amplify over and over again that Mindanawans are not happy, in fact, are outraged, with President Duterte’s martial law declaration,” said Agdahan.

TINDOGA will be joined, among others, by the Umayamon families from Cabanglasan and the Tigwahanon communities from San Fernando, Bukidnon who fled their communities in May this year because of threats and harassment coming from state forces and from various paramilitary groups. Their members are currently taking refuge at the capitol grounds of Bukidnon in Malaybalay City. They refuse to go back to their respective communities for fear for their lives.

Martial law has aggravated the situation of the Lumad communities. Military, who before used the pretext of being in hot pursuit of NPA rebels to barge into Lumad homes, now simply are able to arrest indigenous individuals they accuse as NPA or its supporters as in the case of Junty Sedom. Sedom, along with 10 other Tigwahanon people were apprehended by 68th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army on June 22, 2017, a month after President Duterte declared martial law.

Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2017

The Lakbayan, which has kicked off yesterday in other regions, is the convergence of many national minorities groups—from the Bangsamoro, Lumad and many other indigenous peoples’ groups across the country—to Manila to protest the intensifying oppression against national minorities.

This national oppression is characterized by plunder of natural resources in indigenous and Moro lands, fake representation in the government, lack of social services, commercialization and bastardization of culture, and discrimination and Christian chauvinism encouraged by the existing socio-political structures.

“This year, with the declaration of Martial Law, ceaseless bombings over communities, and rampant issues of prejudice against the Lumad and of Islamophobia targeting our Moro brotehrs and sisters, Mindanawans are once again rising up to strike the country’s capital with our calls for right to self-determination, for just and lasting peace, and an end to Duterte’s brutal war against the national minorities and the Filipino people,” said Datu Jomorito Goaynon, chairperson of Kalumabay  Regional Lumad Organization.

The Northern Mindanao contingents of Lakbayan are headed by Kalumbay, Tindeg Ranao and the Suara Bangsamoro. The voyage will pass through Cebu, Masbate, Bicol and southern Tagalog regions before the convergence of all participants coming from other areas on September 1 at the south of Manila. They will then proceed to the University of the Philippines in Diliman for a camp-out up to the anniversary of Marcos’ Martial Law declaration on September 21.

The Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya, in its second straight year now, is organized by SANDUGO Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination.

 

For reference:

 

Alana Ann Rey O. Cortes

Media Officer, Northern Mindanao contingent

Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2017

Mobile number 0929 380 5080