“We, the Lumad people will remain steadfast in fighting for our land, life and rights.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Student organizations at the University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman condemned former Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson’s blatant red-tagging of Lumad schools in Mindanao as well as UP students.
On Monday, Oct. 30, some Lumad trooped to Quezon Hall accusing the New People’s Army and Communist Party of the Philippines of committing “17 atrocities” in Mindanao. Among the alleged atrocities committed by the NPA were the purported killing of thousands of indigenous people’s leaders from “1980s to present just because they don’t follow what the NPAs wanted” and “making their ancestral domains as guerilla base and battle ground without permission.”
Uson covered the event through Facebook live.
Kasama sa UP, an alliance of student councils in UP condemned what they called as “desperate tactics of the state.” As the end of martial law in Mindanao is nearing, the alliance said President Duerte’s administration is doing anything to justify another extension of martial rule “to continue stepping over the rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands and self-determination and to, ultimately, pacify the ever-growing resistance in Mindanao against the atrocities of this regime.”
“With Uson being a known propagator of fake propaganda, she is obviously serving her role as a tentacle of the state in trying to beautify the already rotting image of this regime,�� the group said in its statement.
STAND UP, UP School of Economics Student Councils and UP Broadcasters’ Guild also expressed their condemnation of Uson and what they described as lies that she peddled to the public just to discredit the genuine Lumad organizations and the schools that they have built.
“As media adherent, it is our responsibility to bring out the truth. We will not let lies continue to spread. In real life, the state itself kills Lumad,” the UP Broadcasters’ Guild said in a statement.
Lumad leader surfaced by Uson in interview is wanted for multiple criminal charges
Prior to the trooping, Uson interviewed supposed Lumad leaders also claiming the same allegations and another interview with Lumad students claiming that they were taught how to dismantle firearms at Lumad schools.
But a report by Davao Today said Femia Cullamat, chairperson of Kahugpungan sa Lumadnong Organisasyon-Caraga (Kasalo-Caraga) identified one of the supposed leaders as Marcos Bocales who has a long standing warrant of arrest for the murder of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) executive director Emerito Samarca, Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Manobo Datu Juvello Sinzo.
Cullamat said Bocales was one of the leaders of Magahat-Bagani who led the horrendous Lianga massacre in Sept. 2015.
Bocales and several others were charged with multiple murder, arson, robbery grave coercion and grave threat.
Meanwhile, Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan thanked Uson for bringing Bocales to Manila “even if Uson, Bocales and their cabal of disinformation agents of the government continue to spread lies.”
“Bocales has long standing warrant of arrest. His case is multiple murder. He should be arrested. Why is he still spreading lies?” said Palabay in her post in social media.
‘Black propaganda as testament to victories’
For Alcadev, the accusations which they have already debunked several years ago, is a testament to their victories.
“We have already shown the kind of education that we offer – one that is nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented. We have shown how the Lumad people have been so productive in tilling the ancestral lands and most importantly, we have been relentless in fighting for our right to self-determination,” Alcadev’s statement read.
The Alcadev was formed through a joint resolution of two tribal organizations, Kahugpungan sa mga Lumad nga Nagkahiusa sa Surigao del Sur (KALUNASS) and the Malahutayong Pagkabisog alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu). It began operations in 2004 and has served thousands of Lumad students who have long been deprived of education.
Alcadev provided academic, vocational and technical skills to its students coming from 32 Lumad communities all over the Caraga region.
“One thing is clear, Duterte is hell-bent in justifying his dictatorial ambitions and uses the bogus Lumad leaders to do so. They can no longer deny the growing resistance of the Lumad people against Duterte who is basically anti-Lumad,” Alcadev said.
Just last Oct. 23, around 15,000 Mindanaoans along with several Lumad groups marched in Butuan, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and General Santos protesting Duterte’s fascicm.
“We, the Lumad people will remain steadfast in fighting for our land, life and rights. We shall defend the victories we have achieved through our struggle as the detractors continue with their attempt in destroying our schools and communities. We shall not falter. We will resist,” Alcadev concluded.