Stop the attacks! End Martial Law in Mindanao!

Attacks against the national minorities have intensified under the ongoing martial law rule in Mindanao. It has turned the entire island into a brutal killing field where President Rodrigo Duterte displayed its contemptible tyrannical rule at its most violent form.

Under the regime’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, at least 70% of the Armed Forces of the Philippines combat troops are deployed across the Mindanao region. Their intensified military operations has resulted in widespread harassment, killings and forced evacuations in various provinces especially in Lumad communities.

According to human rights group Barug Katungod Mindanao, the spate of human rights violations in Mindanao have increased to 121 percent. Meanwhile, a data from human rights group Karapatan from May 2017 to May 2018 reveals 49 cases of extra-judicial killings in Mindanao which involves mostly indigenous peoples and members of local peasant organizations, 116 cases of frustrated extra-judicial killings, 89 cases of illegal arrests and detention, 336,124 cases of indiscriminate gunfire and aerial bombings and 404,654 cases of displacement due to bombings.

Photo of Bakwit children in the CARAGA region after another string of AFP military operations under the US-Duterte regime’s counter-insurgency program, Oplan Kapayapaan. (Photo by: Chad Booc)

Indigenous peoples have been subjected to various forms of oppression. Trumped up charges against farmers, sectoral leaders, human rights workers and activists are continuously rising in numbers. Self-sufficient Lumad schools have also been under attack by the intensified military operations of the AFP.

Just this June, 72 Lumad schools in Davao were unable to hold classes because of military presence in their areas. According to Save Our Schools Network in Davao, around 2,000 Lumad students could not attend classes in Salugpongan in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. Academy in Compostela Valley, and Center for Lumad Advocacy Networking and Services Inc Lumad Schools in Davao del Norte and Sultan Kudarat.

The group also said that at least six students were forced to drop out of the Salugpongan school “after military duped them to join or enroll in Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, but instead were detained and subjected to forced surrender.”

Meanwhile, a report for Karapatan in Caraga said that 15 Lumad communities evacuated due to intensified military abuses. After 33 days of military presence in the Lumad communities of Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur by more than 100 soldiers belonging to the 75th IBPA, around 328 Lumad families consisting of at least 1,607 individyals are evacuating from their ancestral lands. There were also reports of threats and seual harassment against women and children. In addition, a total of 568 students and 48 teachers from 8 community school of Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development also evacuated.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines vehemently condemns the continuing attacks of the Duterte regime against the Filipino people, especially to indigenous peoples in Mindanao. Duterte is wrong if he is thinking that the Filipino people are amnesiacs and intellectual vegetables. He should be sent at the edge of his seat aghast and frightened for the people are now calling for his ouster. With the intensifying resistance of the Filipino people against his despotic and tyrannical regime, paper tiger Duterte will be chewed by his own fangs.

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