Indigenous peoples call for end to human rights violations

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On Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, the indigenous peoples protesters took an early start with a sunrise ritual at 6 a.m., performed by 15 Lumad tribal leaders at Plaza Miranda. Called a “panubadtubad” in Manobo or “panawagtawag” in Talaandig, the ritual entailed the sacrifice of a red, native chicken, symbolizing “the ill response of the Aquino government to the six legitimate demands of the Manilakbayan.”

The datus first performed a panubadtubad when they arrived in Manila on Nov. 24, when they offered a white chicken, as a symbol of purity of sacrifice to nature’s good spirits. The ritual is performed at the start and end of a journey, or undertaking, said Jomorito Goaynon, spokesperson of Manilakbayan ng Mindanao. The elders also offered white, native eggs, to symbolize purity and love.

The six demands of the Manilakbayan are: the pull-out of military troops in the communities, the revocation of the Department of Education Memo 221 which allows the entry of soldiers in schools, as well as a stop to the attacks on schools, the dismantling of Lumad paramilitary groups, a halt to the operations and encroachment of large-scale, foreign mining companies in ancestral communities and peasant lands, and the pull-out of US troops.

Lumad and Igorot leaders formed a “pagta,” a unity pact, along with church advocates, to symbolize their commitment to a common struggle.

As a parting gift, leaders of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) gifted the Lumad datus with a wooden shield and a spear. In turn, the Lumads also gifted the Igorot leader with a tubao cloth and scarf.

The ritual ended in a community dancing, and a breakfast.

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Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of indigenous peoples’ alliance Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp) pointed out that 50 indigenous peoples – mostly Lumads – were killed by military and paramilitary groups under the Aquino presidency. Among the victims are six women and seven children.

Malayao also cited 26 forced evacuations and 214 incidents of military attacks on schools in Mindanao.

‘Sham’

The Moro Christian Peoples’ Alliance (MCPA) said human rights abuses by state forces continue in the Bangsamoro areas, despite the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (Cab) signed this year by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Moro communities continue to be heavily militarized and human rights violations are still rampant,” said the MCPA statement on human rights day.

The MCPA said that the Aquino government has not ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to demilitarize, or redeploy the heavy troops in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“Oplan Bayanihan, the Aquino regime’s infamous counterinsurgency program, still operates in MILF territories,” said the MCPA. In Maguindanao province, “the seat of MILF’s political power and one of the five-province core territories of the Bangsamoro,” the group said there are nine battalions in 34 of the 36 municipalities. Military detachment are present in all villages, it said.

Text and photos by Dee Ayroso
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