Missionary group decries continued militarization, abduction of rights workers in Mindanao

Quezon City – The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR), an organization of religious and lay men and women, joins the peoples of Mindanao in bringing the issue of worsening attacks against Human Rights Defenders in Mindanao under Martial Law during the ASEAN Civil Society Conference / ASEAN Peoples’ Forum in UP Diliman.

On October 27, one of RMP-NMR’s fieldworkers, Julito Otacan, was arrested together with five other Indigenous Peoples. Military allegedly found firearms in their houses and took them from their homes in Barangay Balit, San Luis, Agusan del Sur. 

Otacan is a community leader is working in Banwaon communities under a project funded by the European Union, called “Protecting and Promoting Indigenous Human Rights in the Philippines”. The other five Banwaon community members arrested were Enrique Barluado, Jonas Acosta, Noli Tahudan, Marlon Talatayod, and Joel Trasona.

“While this kind of military harassments are not new, the increase in frequency ever since Martial Law was declared is alarming,” said Mary Louise Dumas, interim coordinator of RMP-NMR. “They are using the declaration as a blanket excuse to attack communities who have been vocal against projects affecting them.”

The Banwaons in San Luis have long been targeted by the military given their staunch opposition to mining and logging in their ancestral lands. And this is not an isolated case. RMP-NMR had also received reports of harassments against IP communities in Bukidnon who have been resisting the expansion of agribusinesses.

“Trade agreements have been negatively affecting the Lumad communities because of streamlined processes that do not respect the Indigenous Peoples’ rights especially to a genuine Free Prior and Informed Consent,” Dumas added. “We bring this issue along with the other peoples’ organizations who are right now protesting against anti-people Trade Agreements in time with the East Asia Summit happening here in our country.”###

 

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release

November 11, 2017

For inquiries, you may contact:

coordinator@rmp-nmr.org rmp.nmr@gmail.com ; ienrile@aprnet.orgrlahoy@iboninternational.org