Philippine gov’t soldiers pushing lumad civilians to ‘surrender’ in Bukidnon

(Illustration by CDUR/Bulatlat)

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – They have been farmers all their life. But this week, state soldiers showed they have other ideas about the lumad. They treated the lumad as if convinced that they are rebels. The soldiers have reportedly forced their way into lumad houses in Bukidnon, without search warrants, last September 18. They have also been intimidating lumad members of Kalumbay, regional association of indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

Messages from some lumad communities sent to Bulatlat said that yesterday, September 19, soldiers belonging to the 58th IB of the Philippine Army summoned the members of local lumad organizations in Bagokbok, Opol, Misamis Oriental. Responding to the summons, the locals soon learned the soldiers wanted them to signify their ‘surrender.’

Datu Jomorito Guaynon, the chairperson of lumad regional association Kalumbay, said soldiers from the 58th IB gathered the lumad they had summoned and “They are forcing the lumad to ‘surrender’.”

They tell the lumad they will be slapped with cases if they will not ‘surrender’, Guaynon told Bulatlat.

But being civilians and most are farmers, the lumad saw no reason to ‘surrender,’ and so they refused to ‘surrender.’ Guaynon said the summoned lumad were eventually allowed to go back to their homes.

The day before, on September 18, the lumad group Kalumbay also received reports that in Talakag, Bukidnon, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ special forces went up into the houses of lumad in San Aquino in Talakag. The residents reportedly felt fear as soldiers went in and out of their houses and roamed their neighborhood.

These military operations in civilian communities happened on the same dates that an international people’s tribunal was hearing testimonies about rights violations arising from similar incidents. In Brussels, Belgium Filipino human rights group alliance Karapatan is among the complainants who filed cases of civil and political rights violations at the tribunal.

It issued a verdict past midnight of September 20 Philippine time, declaring Duterte guilty as charged of committing violations against the Filipino people. The IPT pointed out that the testimonies were “eerily familiar and oftentimes similar to previous violations that past peoples’ tribunals have covered. And yet the Defendant Duterte has created new forms of attacks and intensified the old ones.”

Indicting Duterte in local and global courts

Karapatan Secretary general Cristina Palabay delivered testimony on civil and political rights violations of the Duterte regime at the International People’s Tribunal held in Brussels.

Just a few days before, she said, a lumad youth was killed by soldiers.

On September 15, 2018, Rex Hangadon, a Lumad and resident of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, was resting in a hut at the community’s communal farm when elements of the 23rd IBPA fired at him and killed him. He was with his father, Bandi Hangadon, when it happened. His father remains missing as of this writing. Witnesses attested to Karapatan that Rex’s body was brought out of the hut by the soldiers.

The killing of Hangadon and the disappearance of his father prompted 28 Higaonon families to evacuate.

lumad
Lumad girls from another group of evacuees in August this year (Photo by Kenneth Cadiang, grabbed from his FB post Aug. 8, 2018)

Before the international jurors of the International People’s Tribunal, Cristina Palabay of Karapatan emphasized that rights violations being committed by Duterte and his minions are in violation of human rights instruments and agreements with which this government is bound to respect and uphold.

Palabay reiterated that crimes such as the extra-judicial killing of Hangadon and the recent Sulu massacre will be “veiled under various twisted justifications, with the Duterte regime brandishing its favorite labels – ‘terrorists’, ‘enemies of the State’, ‘NPA symphatizers’, among others.

Even Datu Jomorito Guaynon, chairperson of Kalumbay regional lumad organization, has been seeing his face in “Wanted” printed materials posted near the Central Mindanao University (CMU), bus terminals and other communities in Bukidnon. The materials vilify him as a supporter of “terrorists.”

He cries foul against this move saying it is trying to discredit him as a lumad leader. “This is to paralyze the Kalumbay from helping the tribe and so that the people will be afraid of us,” he said.

From the other side of the globe, Palabay told an international panel of jurors, “These people have been denied their right to due process, and their perpetrators are terrorizing communities in confidence that they are protected by the government.”

Palabay described Duterte as the number one human rights violator in the country, abettor of plunderers and criminals. “He does not hesitate to use his regime’s resources to silence people, deny justice, and preserve impunity.”

She vowed that Karapatan “will hound the Duterte regime and break down all of its lies – in every avenue that is available to us.” That includes the IPT and the International Criminal Court. ()

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