CEGP to Duterte: End attacks, save Lumad schools

Members of the paramilitary group Alamara are forcing their way into UCCP-Haran. Presence of heavy firearms and melee weapons have been reported. Photo courtesy of CEGP — Davao.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines vehemently condemns the recent attacks of paramilitary group Alamara for forcibly entering and threatening the 500 Lumad evacuees currently staying at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran compound in Davao City, January 25, 2020.

Members of the Alamara have used wire cutters and bolos to forcefully enter a private property. Prior to the attack, there are reports implying that the incident was planned and orchestrated by state forces to harrass and intimidate those who are seeking sanctuary at the UCCP Haran. On January 15, 2020, the regional peace and order council issued a resolution to close the sanctuary over false allegations, according to Save Our Lumad Schools Network — SMR.

“Cases of intimidation and harassment of indigenous people in the communities, accusing them as New People’s Army and forcing them to surrender are bothering. Fake surrenderees under threat of being arrested and jailed by soldiers, Lumad and other civilians are forced to leave their communities to escape violence,” said CEGP national president Daryl Angelo Baybado.

The Lumads are suffering from greater abuses since President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70 started.

“Duterte’s penchant to proclaim himself as a “strong man” have killed and silenced thousands of Filipino people. He should listen to Lumads’ clamor for ancestral domain against destructive imperialist mining and plantations,” added Baybado.

The culture and ways of life of indigenous peoples are importantly connected with their ancestral lands and environments.

“Forcing the Lumad people to leave their homes has an incalculable impact on their very lives and ways of living — one that risks erasing their culture and existence from their own heritage,” added Baybado.

“The indigenous people must free from displacement and harassment to allow them to return to their ancestral lands with guarantees of safety, dignity, and protection,” ended Baybado.

We call on the Duterte administration to observe its obligations under international law to protect the human rights of indigenous peoples, including in the context of armed conflict.

CEGP vows to fight for justice and hold all the perpetrators accountable for all the victims of state-sponsored violence by this murderous US-Duterte regime.

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