JPIC promoters of international superior generals reflect on Lumad, Moro issues

ROME, ITALY, 27 September 2017—Promoters of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) of the Union of Superior Generals (USG), and the International Union of Superior Generals (UISG) reflected on the situation in Mindanao under martial law in a forum at the La Salle Generalate today.

The forum, titled, ‘Marawi Siege, Martial Law and the Fate of the Bangsamoro and Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao’, discussed the war on terror, which is being popularized now as a war against extremism.

In Mindanao, this has taken the form of increased military deployment and heightened military operations, supported by the declaration of Martial Law on May 23, 2017. In the relentless pursuit of the military against the Maute terrorist group (also known as Dawlah Islamiya), the big impact is felt mostly by the most vulnerable groups in the islands - the Moros (Islamic communities) and the Lumad (Indigenous Peoples), their communities long victimised by oppression, discrimination, and systematic marginalization.

From the presentations of Ms. Amirah Lidasan and Ms. Beverly Longid, both consultants of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR), for Moro and Indigenous Peoples’ issues, respectively, the participants discussed ways how to support the Indigenous Peoples and Moro communities affected by the declaration. The participants particularly expressed interest on how to build, manage, maintain and sustain Lumad schools.

Lidasan, a Moro woman leader from the Iranon tribe, is a member of the national executive committee of the Suara Bangsamoro, and acts as co-convener of the Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) and peace group Kalinaw Mindanao. Longid is the international coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), and also acts as the coordinator of the Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Network on Extractives and Energy (AIPNEE).

RMP-NMR is strengthening its campaign in the hopes of gathering further support for humanitarian initiatives in response to the ongoing Marawi Crisis and the continuing evacuations of Lumad communities due to heightened military attacks. The organization urges church and religious communities and institutions to speak out and call for support for the communities under attack.

In November 2015, a delegation from RMP-NMR that included its coordinator, Sr. Ma. Famita Somogod, MSM, and program officers Mary Louise Dumas and Arnold Alamon, also held a discussion with the JPIC concerning the relentless attacks against the Lumad in Mindanao. The JPIC—headed by its executive co-secretaries—after the discussion, reacted positively and released a statement supporting the human rights concern the RMP-NMR brought to its fore (read: JPIC Commission Statement on Human rights concerns in North Mindanao Philippines).

The USG and the UISG are worldwide, canonically approved organizations of Superiors General of Institutes of Catholic Men and of Women Religious, respectively. As such, it provides an international forum where Superiors General can share experiences, exchange information and mentor one another in their role as leaders, and encourage dialogue and collaboration among Religious Congregations within the Church and larger society.

The activity gathered representatives from JPIC programs of various religious congregations—including the Servites Fathers, Presentation of Mary, and the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, among others. ###